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(FOX 46 WJZY) – Still miles away from the greater Charlotte area, the worst of Florence is still causing damage across the greater Charlotte area.
In Charlotte, the sound of chainsaws could already be heard Friday evening as crews spent more than five hours clearing roads in Myers Park from debris and downed trees. A large tree came crashing down on a car just off Sharon Road.
“All of a sudden, we hear the sound of a bang. A boom sound, that’s it.”
That “boom,” was a massive tree crushing a Toyota Camry. Thankfully no one was inside the car at the time and no one was injured.
In Anson County, strong winds caused the old Polktown Shirt Factory to collapse into itself. Crews spent the evening demolishing what was left.
Trees were also reported down in various parts of Catawba County and Rowan County, blocking roads and causing problems. High river levels have residents and emergency officials on alert in Salisbury as Florence is expected to drop even more water.
At a Friday conference call with FEMA, federal officials warned of widespread power outages, tree damage and “a lot of urban flooding issues.”
Officials in Gaston County said they are “absolutely serious” about preparing. With winds picking up, all eyes are on neighboring rivers in Cramerton, like the South Fork Catawba River, which officials say, has flooded before.
Ashbrook High School opened up as a shelter at 5 p.m. Friday. The school can shelter at least 500 people and their pets displaced from the storm due to flood waters or home damage.
In Cabarrus County, an Emergency Operations Center was opened in Concord. City officials say they have already identified flood-prone streets and wants neighbors to remember that flooding could still be a threat for days after the rain stops.
“We want people to be really mindful it’s not just while the rain’s falling, it could happen several days after the rain stops. The water is going to continue to flow downstream and rivers are likely to come beyond their banks,” said Peter Franzese, Public Information Officer for the City of Concord.
Across the border in South Carolina, Rock Hill residents were preparing for the worst. While Florence has lost most of its strength as it makes its slow move across the Carolinas, the storm has already caused catastrophic flooding.
Deadly Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and the assault wasn’t anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend. The storm knocked out power to more than 890,000 homes and businesses, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the U.S. electrical grid.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an “uninvited brute” that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds across the state.
The assault on the Charlotte area is set to begin Saturday with the mountains and foothills expected to receive 6-10 inches of rain. For Charlotte and the Piedmont, that range increased to 10-15 inches. The Sandhills could see 15 inches or more.
You can stay ahead of the storm by visiting the FOX 46 Hurricane Resource page.