North Carolina Prepares For Flooding
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Take a look at the satellite images of Hurricane Florence, and it looks like it's about the size of the Carolinas. The storm has weakened somewhat in terms of wind speed. But officials warn intense rain and flooding could have a lasting effect, even after the storm makes landfall, especially near creeks and rivers, of course. Such as along North Carolina's Pamlico River, which is where we find NPR's Brakkton Booker.
BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: In Washington, N.C., this part of the Pamlico River is fairly narrow. But not too far from here, it flows into a saltwater sound surrounded by the Outer Banks islands. Standing on a boardwalk, Mac Hodges, Washington's mayor, feels a humid breeze pick up.
(SOUNDBITE OF WIND BLOWING)
MAC HODGES: Oh, it's feeling like a hurricane now.
BOOKER: What makes it feel like a hurricane?
HODGES: I don't know, just that wind. Maybe it's because I know it's out there.
BOOKER: Hodges says they're used to having hurricanes pass through here. He remembers Floyd in 1999. And Matthew in 2016 caused some flooding here. And even though Florence is tracking further south and losing strength, Hodges says there's still reason to worry.
HODGES: This time, it's important. If you're in a low-lying area, get out because I don't know that we can go get you.
BOOKER: Especially along the riverbanks, where Ann Lang (ph) lives. Her house, with its charming wraparound porch, is a few hundred yards from the water's edge.
ANN LANG: The water comes up to this side of the house out of that ditch. This side normally stays dry, but a lot of our neighbors - they'll be completely surrounded, and it'll go in their houses.
BOOKER: Even after seeing all that, she plans to stay at her home during the storm. Same with newlyweds Darryl (ph) and Dawn Morse (ph). They're picking up last-minute supplies at the Food Lion. They will also ride out Florence in their trailer home.
DARRYL MORSE: I've heard them say so many times they're going to be life-threatening that it don't even bother me. I mean, whatever's going to happen is going to happen, but I've been through Hugo, Fran, Floyd.
BOOKER: But for his wife, Dawn...
DAWN MORSE: It's my first hurricane period (laughter).
BOOKER: And how are you feeling?
DAWN MORSE: I scared (laughter). Now I'm going to go hide.
DARRYL MORSE: No, she ain't. She'll be right there by my side.
DAWN MORSE: Not.
BOOKER: But in less than 24 hours, Florence will be no laughing matter, says Carnie Hedgepeth. He's the director of emergency services for Beaufort County.
CARNIE HEDGEPETH: We are expected to have between seven feet and 12 feet of storm surge. The second flooding piece we have is typically from the rainfall.
BOOKER: And Hedgepeth says that second part may not be felt until next week.
HEDGEPETH: So we could have potential initial flooding that is going on and also secondary flooding days down the road from the storm.
BOOKER: Even though, for some, the anxiety of Florence making a direct hit here has subsided, many know it will still impact millions to the south. At Arthur Christian Church, about 20 people in a Bible study say a group prayer as the storm approaches.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Father God, just be with those who are in the flood zone. May the damage not be so much. May...
BOOKER: They pray for the first responders, National Guard and those who will be impacted the most by the approaching storm.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Amen.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Amen.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Thank you for coming tonight. All right. Amen. Stay safe.
BOOKER: Florence is expected to make landfall somewhere near the border of North and South Carolina. Brakkton Booker, NPR News, Beaufort County, N.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.