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Hurricane Florence Pounding the Carolina Coast; High Storm Surge Expected on Carolina Coast. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 14, 2018 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a good guy.

DON LEMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Thank you, sir. If I was closer, I would come and get some fish and chips, but we really appreciate it we thank you for being such a good person and a good citizen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, thanks for having me and yes, this is awesome. Thanks very much. Everybody take care and be safe.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely. Listen, that is the -- that's a good thing that happens when we go across America and we see the -- some of a natural disasters, some of them man-made disasters, whatever it could be, a big breaking news story, a horrific story, we see the humanity of people coming together, forgetting about politics, forgetting about anything that has to do with anything negative or that divides us and they come together and they help people, and that's what Adam Randall and many other folks have been doing in this area. That is it for me here in the Carolinas. I'm going to be back tomorrow. Our coverage is going to continue now with my colleague George Howell. George, take it away.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Don Lemon, thank you. Again, several hours of coverage today, so much involved in this storm, and we will continue to cover it live here from Wilmington, North Carolina. The wind here hitting strong, the rain coming down as you see, keeping in mind right now this storm, it's been downgraded from a two to a category one storm. We understand that the eye of the storm right now still on track toward Wilmington, North Carolina, about 50 miles away from where we are right now. That's about 85 kilometers, for our viewers around the world who are watching.

The wind gusts at this point right around the eyewall, 90 miles per hour sustained but wind gusts getting up to 120 miles per hour and again storm surge is a major concern with this storm as it continues to push inland. Storm surge we understand, could get anywhere. Again, you're feeling the wind -- hearing the wind rather come through. Storm surge anywhere from nine to ten feet. It is very, very important that viewers keep in mind this is a significant storm, don't get too caught up in the category because this is a beast. It is moving in and moving at a snail's pace mind you, moving at miles per hour, six miles per hour. It was 15 miles per hour before, six miles per hour which means the eye of the storm will not come into Wilmington until the afternoon. We expected it to be on track to hit right around now, but because it's moving so slow, dumping so much rain, water, it won't happen until the afternoon.

So it's going to be a long several hours for many people who decided to hunker down, for many people who are here in Wilmington and parts nearby. CNN covering this of course with our teams throughout the region. We have our Derek Van Dam right now in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, we have our Nick Watt in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and our Meteorologist Karen Maginnis at the CNN Weather Center.

Derek, starting with you, they are in Carolina Beach, the wind certainly hitting you there, the rain hitting you, tell us about the situation as it is now.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Well, good morning, George. Good morning to our viewers. The full story of Hurricane Florence is still yet to be written. But one thing for sure, we know that where we are here at Carolina Beach, on the coastal regions of North Carolina we will be feeling the full brunt and the full fury of Florence as a projected landfall will move across this region in the overnight and into the early morning hours of Friday, something as a Meteorologist, I am actually looking forward to.

But this is just an incredible event because we've seen the storm slowed down tremendously. It is moving at a snail's pace. That's why the storm is so different to any of the other storms that people have lived out here along the Carolina coast. It is moving so slow, this is going to be a long duration event and it's just starting to show its nasty face to us now. Wind gusts, get this, over 60 kilometers per hour, gusting close to Hurricane force now. But we may not see them drop below Hurricane force winds until Saturday. That is incredible.

As a meteorologist, the duration of this event 48 hours of its sustained tropical storm-force winds with gusts near a hurricane-force is unfathomable. There are not many structures out there including trees that can withstand that long of that strong of winds, OK. Even though we're splicing hairs here with the lowering of the categories of the hurricane, don't pay attention to that number. Focus on the fact that this storm is here to stay dumping what is potentially eight months of rain as you can clearly see in a two day period. It's amazing.

My senses have just been reminded so quickly about covering Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma. I've got the smell of fuel from a generator that's just to my side here keeping us with power and keeping us on air. All these senses being triggered from these moments when we're in the middle of a storm like this in Georgia. I know you're so familiar with it as well. We are in this for the long haul and we're going to bring our viewers all the latest information. Remember, we are in a safe position, we are not putting our crews in harm's way, but we're doing our best to show you, the viewers at home, the story and what's unfolding here along the east coast of the U.S. George?

[01:05:28] HOWELL: Derek, that's so important to point out again and to all our viewers, again, we are also in a safer position as we can be. It's important for viewers to understand, you have to take those precautions especially if you're going to be here through the duration of this. Derek, I have one other question for you. You know, thinking about the viewers who are watching, you know, I'm thinking about the people who left North Carolina, who left Wilmington, people who left everything behind and maybe watching to wonder you know, their property, their homes, you know, what is to make of those things as the storm comes through. And also for those people who are hunkered down, Derek, for what you're seeing right now, what can you tell people about the intensity of this storm who may be watching.

VAN DAM: OK, well, one thing is so important for people to listen to is if you listen to the evacuations and you got out, good for you. You listen to the police, you listen to authorities as you should because just because the storm has been downgraded doesn't mean that the dangers don't exist. Clearly, we're in hurricane conditions. You don't want to return to your home especially if you're under mandatory evacuations. Don't take the downgrading of the storm lightly. Stay where you are if you've evacuated. If you are riding out the storm, stay put and ride it through, but you're in it for the long haul. Take the storm seriously. George?

HOWELL: Derek Van Dam live for us in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Derek, we'll stay in touch with you again as we continue to cover this over the next several hours. Now, let's bring in our colleague Nick Watt. Nick is live in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And Nick, that is an important tourist destination for sure. These days certainly costing that city a lot of money for sure. But you know, the bigger thing here, tell us about the situation of the storm. You're getting some wind but are you getting rain at this point?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We had a little bit of rain earlier on in the evening George and the wind has just started picking up I would say in the last 15 or 20 minutes. We're expecting at about 5:00 a.m. local time for it really to get stronger. And in the afternoon, gusts of 90 miles an hour. That's around 140 kilometers as this monster storm moves in. And there are a lot of comparisons here to the last really big storm that hit this area. It was back in 1989, Hurricane Hugo. Now, it was packing 135-mile-per-hour winds, storms through here, it was a deadly storm. But this is going to be very different. This is going to be mainly about the water as we've been hearing. You know, ten trillion gallons of water falling in North Carolina alone, much more down here.

And the problem that I think they're going to have in this part of the state is the longer it takes for this storm to get here, the more people are going to get complacent and think it's not going to be a big deal. I spoke to a guy on the beach this morning just after it had been downgraded from a category two to a category four -- sorry from a three to a two, and he said you know, I was planning to evacuate. Now, it's a two, no big deal. I don't need to move. But the categories as we know are just to do with the wind speed and not the water. There is still all that rain up there that has to come down.

We're also expecting some storm surges here and as you were talking before about trying to stay safe, I'm standing on a -- on a deck here about 15 feet off the ground, beach, the shore is about 3,400 feet there. We are expecting a storm surge to come through here. This house has been built on stilts so the water will flow through and into the rest of the town. And there's a waterway, an intracoastal waterway just two or three blocks inland from where we are so there is a good chance that this whole little spit of land that we're on could be under a few feet of water over this weekend.

As we've been hearing, this is going to be a long haul event. This storm is going to slow even more as it comes over land It's going to sit here and it's going to rain, and it's going to rain, and it's going to rain. And most people who die in (INAUDIBLE) died from water, not from the wind, they die from the water, from the flooding, and from the storm surge. That is what we're looking at here. As you mentioned, this is normally a tourist destination and it's still tourist season. It still should be warm down here. They get 14 million visitors to this area every year. Most of those people are gone. As I say, 85 percent of the people in North Myrtle Beach we're told have evacuated. Some hardy souls toughing it out and we wish them the best of luck. George?

[01:10:00] HOWELL: Nick Watt, live for us. Nick, that is good to know that so many people did make that call to evacuate. Nick, we'll stay in touch with you there live in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Now, let's bring in our Meteorologist Karen McGinnis live in the CNN Weather Center. And Karen, again, if you can tell us you know, just the intensity of this storm. We're feeling it here in Wilmington these storm bands that are coming through, the wind gusts coming and going, and the rain from what we can tell is pretty substantial.

KAREN MCGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: George, if we were to come to you six hours from now, 12 hours from now, you would be saying exactly the same thing because Florence is moving so slowly. Now, it kicked up a notch. It's at six miles per hour. It's moving at six miles an hour. It slowed down just a little bit but it is tapping the warm water of the Atlantic. And additionally, we are seeing a just kind of lying right in the vicinity of where the Gulf Stream is. The Gulf Stream is that recurrent of water that is warmer that runs towards the north. That's what we saw with Hurricane Hugo. Once it hit that, Gulf Stream it mushroomed in intensity.

Well, Florence hasn't done that. This has been a little tricky. The continuum models have been spot-on. And yes this is not a wind event. This is a rain, this is a water event. We keep saying that over and over. And we've heard stories through these river basins in coastal sections of North Carolina that are becoming inundated, inundated. Ten feet of water, that's a storm surge. There's still lots of moisture that can be tapped from the Atlantic there. You can see it just kind of wrapping around. It keeps wrapping around the center of this, not a clearly-defined eye so it doesn't look all that impressive when you take a look at that. But this is just going to meander a little bit over the next 24 hours, maybe down the coast, may be headed towards South Carolina.

You have to remember, this is the Cape Fear River Basin, this is the Neuse River Basin, this is the Pamlico River Basin, all of those rivers feed into those separate river basins. Where's that water going to go? It's going to try to go onto the Atlantic but it can't because there's so much water. It's getting pushed on shore so it backs up. And as it backs up, that's when the neighborhood's get filled up. That's when the businesses of your friends or yours gets devastated from the floodwaters. 1It's not going to be wind. Although the wind is potentially going to knock over some of those trees, we see some of the counties in North Carolina, Carteret County, also Pamlico County, Onslow County Craven County, between 50 percent and nearly 100 percent power outages in those counties.

If people stayed there, maybe it's weeks from now, George, before the power gets turned back on. But this is a days-long event. And so we're going to be talking about the flooding rains, North Carolina, South Carolina until the beginning of next week.

HOWELL: We'll be on this for some time. Karen Maginnis live for us at the CNN Weather Center, Karen, thank you. Look, you know, so what you'll see here, the power will go out, the power will come on. The rain will continue the rain will stop. The wind gusts will pick up, the wind will stop. It's these you know, episodes of peace and then just pure hell as it comes through peace continues on and on and again we could see this for the next several hours.

Let's now bring in Mike Stanton (ph). Mike is with AccuWeather and riding the storm out this hour here in Wilmington, North Carolina. Mike, tell us from your view, what do you think of the storm so far?

MIKE STANTON, ACCUWEATHER: Yes, well, luckily the storm had died down a little bit in intensity as far as the wind is concerned. But you know, it's still a pretty sizable wind field so the storm surge is still going to be devastating. And you know, luckily it looks like it's not going to stall out as much as the models have shown so hopefully some of those rainfall totals can that can come down.

But right now, my location is we're in a little bit of a lull between rain bands but we definitely have some 80 to 90 mile per hour gusts in that lap-band and a lot of power flashers, a lot of powered flickering but it looks like we still have power until that eyewall gets here.

HOWELL: And you know, our producer checked on that at 87 miles per hour, I believe. Robert, is that correct, 87 miles per hour at the airport?

STANTON: At Cape Lookout.

HOWELL: At Cape Lookout. And about 60 miles per hour I believe at the airport. So Mike, you know, we understand these winds are coming and going but again sustained right around 90 miles per hour according to our weather a center there around the eyewall. How long do you expect, Mike, for the eyewall, how long do you expect it to take before it hits landfall?

[01:14:59] STANTON: Well, that new convection wrapping around the west side of the eyewall is interesting. And it looks like it's expanding but there's also kind of a dry slot on the other side of it so it's hard to gauge. You're looking at radar but I think we'll have eyewall conditions here within the next hour to an hour and a half. That's what we're thinking right now. HOWELL: And when you talk about that, you're talking about eyewall conditions that will continue hour after hour, at the hour. And because we're talking about a storm that you could equate it to a person walking down the street.

Not sure if we still have Mike. Mike, do you still with us by phone? We may have lost Mike. But again, that was Mike Stanton. Mike was with us with AccuWeather. Again, riding the storm out here in Wilmington.

Our coverage continues here from Wilmington. We will continue, of course, to monitor the situation. Bring you the very latest after the break. Say with us, CNN "BREAKING NEWS" coverage continues.


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[01:19:54] HOWELL: Welcome back to our "BREAKING NEWS" coverage here in Wilmington, North Carolina. I'm George Howell. Again, we are awaiting the eyewall of this storm as it continues to track here toward Wilmington, North Carolina moving at a snail's pace moving six miles per hour. It's equivalent to a person walking down the street.

And as it does that, it's dropping a great deal of rain and is causing storm surge along the coastline both to be many, many, hour-long events as we continue to stay with you and bring you the very latest.

Here is the thing, we're covering the storm right now as it's coming in. But after the storm comes through, there will be an assessment, of course, among rescue personnel what they need to do to go into these areas. Where people decided to stay to ride this storm out, and according to FEMA, here's what we know, FEMA says, they have 1,100 rescue -- search and rescue personnel in place already. Some 300 ambulances already pre-positioned.

So, they're prepared as the storm pushes through to do what's necessary to make sure people are safe, to get to those people who need help.

Also, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, very important to note that they have 105 generators that are in position right now. That's important, 15 more that are on the way. Those generators are important because they're strong enough to power schools, to power hospitals at the end because the power here as the storm comes through and you may see it through the night from our position in Wilmington, the power goes in and out.

But again, those numbers' important because you get a sense that officials have taken steps to prepare, to preposition equipment to make sure that they're prepared as this storm passes through. But again, that will take several hours, possibly days.

We had Mike Stanton with us earlier on the other side of the break. Let's bring Mike Stanton back in by phone with us. Mike, with AccuWeather, riding the storm out here in Wilmington. And Mike, I believe you are from Oklahoma, yet, but you're here in Wilmington. Tell us again remind our viewers of what you're seeing right now as the storm moves in.

STANTON: Yes, we've had 70, 80 maybe even up to 90-mile per hour gust in these rain bands, and we're expecting that to deteriorate pretty rapidly as that eyewall convection starts to move in here in about an hour and a half.

And like you said, it's moving really slow. And it's going to be here for a while. So, this eye wall usually to come cranking through, and -- you know, it's over with pretty quickly. But this one's going to be hammering us for quite a bit.

So, it's going to be -- the impact is going to be pretty significant from the wind damage.

HOWELL: It's also important to get a sense of that, that eye -- the eye of the storm. Help our viewers understand what happens when the eye passes over. Because again, everything we're experiencing right now, essentially stops, right?

STANTON: It does. There's a really strange eerie calm. And you know, if it's a clear eye, you can look up, you can see the stars between it sometimes. You know, in the intense hurricane, you'll have lightning in the eyewall all around you. And there's birds that are caught up in the eyewall.

It's a really strange eerie feeling and how quickly it goes from really intense -- you know hurricane winds and driving rain to just -- you know completely still. But it's kind of weird and -- you know, it always catches me off guard. It's always weirder than I remember. HOWELL: Mike, you know, this day as we cover the story, I think of the viewer is observing. I think of the people who left, people who may be watching this hour, wondering if their property is OK.

And then, I think about the people who like you, like us are hunkering down riding the storm out. Perhaps, listening -- you know, in radio somehow or over television if they have a generator. What can you tell people about the intensity of this storm as it pushes in?

STANTON: Well, fortunately -- you know, it has -- it has gone down an intensity quite a bit over the last 36 hours. And that's going to mitigate some of the concerns we had earlier with extreme wind damage. And I mean, 100 mile-per-hour winds are still going to do some damage. But nothing near what 140 would have done.

And that's also going to lessen the storm surge just a little bit. So, the storm surge will be just a little bit less than we expected, but we're still going to have the problem with the inland flooding as the storm stalls out and dumps probably 20, 20-25 inches of rain.

HOWELL: You know, I keep reminding viewers not to get -- and yes, I want to point this out, the wind just stopped. The rain just stopped. So, we have a moment of peace to continue the conversation. But, you know, reminding viewers not to get too caught up in the category. At the same time, it is it is significant to say, yes.

Mike, had this been a Category 3 even a four storm? This would be a very different experience for sure. Can you tell us the situation here in Wilmington? Because we are near this river, you know, and we're kind of low -- you know, near the river, high enough that -- you know, we're safe. But what is the concern of about this river as the storm comes in, drops a lot of rain, and then, the rain comes back downstream?

[01:25:00] STANTON: It's a lot of water. And water is one of the most powerful forces on the planet, and people don't realize it until you know, I mean, water kills more people than most other weather phenomena combined.

So, enough a lot of force was going to get because you've got -- you know, miles and miles, hundreds of miles of winds, pushing storm surge in one direction. And then, you've got a whole bunch of rain falling and trying to move out the other direction. And none of its going to go anywhere quickly. It's going to be a long -- a long trip for this storm to move through.

HOWELL: Mike Stanton, we wish you safety as well as you continue to ride this storm out here with us in Wilmington. Thank you, we'll stay in touch with you. Again, to our viewers around the world and here in the U.S., you're watching CNN "BREAKING NEWS" coverage. I'm George Howell, here in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The storm about 50 miles away. The eye of the storm, 50 miles away from Wilmington. It is moving here, kind of like it's walking here. We'll be here through the night with you. Stay with us. MCGINNIS: In Luzon, they are bracing for Super Typhoon Mankhut. It is within 10 to 12 hours or making landfall, it is a powerful system. Several days ago, it was the most powerful of the 2018 season.

Right now, it has supporting winds of 280-kilometer per hour winds. It is moving rather rapidly. But this is such a huge system that's going to be impacting the area all the way from Luzon, down towards Manila.

At least, four million people are affected. People have been evacuated from coastal areas, mudslides, landslides are certainly possible. There is the potential for widespread destruction. But it will move across northern Luzon into the South China Sea.

And within the next 72 hours between Hong Kong and Hainan Island. We are looking at heavy rainfall and high winds. We'll keep you updated.


HOWELL: Our "BREAKING NEWS" coverage continues here in Wilmington, North Carolina. I'm George Howell, where we're feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence. The effects that come and go right now. It feels that we're in a bit of a lull, but certainly within those bands, the outer bands of this massive storm system that is moving here inland to the U.S. East Coast, affecting the southeast part of the United States for the next several days.

[01:29:49] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we understand the storm moving about six miles per hour. You could equate that to a person walking through the park -- a very slow walk. But this big storm is dropping a lot of rain that will certainly cause problems for the next several days.

This -- the wind gusts right now, sustained right around the eye of the storm at 90 miles per hour; the wind gusts getting up to around 120 miles per hour, according to our weather department that is continuing to monitor that. And storm surge is a big concern.

We understood that there have been reports of storm surge up to 9, 10 feet along the coastline. We have crews, of course, throughout the region monitoring all of that. And we will cross with them throughout the night to bring you the very latest here.

There are many people who decided to stay in their homes, some people who stayed in Wilmington, to ride the storm out. Many people as you've seen from video, you've heard many people got in the car and left. They left all of their things behind and they're watching right now hoping that their property will still be there, not too much damaged after the storm.

But we spoke with one person today who decided to ride the storm out, and many are doing this, on his boat. Here's that story.


JOE SEMON, WILL RIDE OUT THE STORM IN HIS BOAT: This is my boat. And I have extra lines out as you can see. I also have an anchor chain.

HOWELL (voice over): The boat will rock, roll and pitch -- the waters here sure to rise but Joe Semon is preparing for the rough ride in the hours ahead.

(on camera): And you're going to ride the storm out in here.

SEMON: Snug as a bug.

HOWELL: All right.

(voice over): As the full force of Hurricane Florence pushes in to Wilmington.

(on camera): I have to tell you. I mean I've been on this boat for just, what, a few minutes -- and I'm already a little dizzy. You're good with this, right?


HOWELL (voice over): Inside these tight quarters, Joe says there's no place he'd rather be because he's been through big storms here before.

(on camera): You worry about this?

SEMON: I have a plan. I have a plan and I have options. There will be a point where I won't have options and -- that time may come some time early this morning when the wind is very, you know, high. But I am monitoring the conditions. So 100 miles an hour I don't have a problem.

HOWELL (voice over): Joe will be in his boat, many others decided to hunker down in their homes, and thousands already hit the road to escape the storm.

Wind speeds have decreased over the past several hours but FEMA warns the risks remain high.

BROCK LONG, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Please do not let your guard down. The storm surge forecast associated with this storm has not changed. It has remained the same.

HOWELL: It's storm surge and heavy rains coupled with the slow moving nature of Florence that will cause flooding throughout the southeastern part of the U.S. for the next several days. North Carolina feeling the effects first, the eye of the storm tracking directly toward Wilmington.

GOVERNOR ROY COOPER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: We're on the wrong side of this thing. This storm will bring destruction to North Carolina.

HOWELL: Weather conditions will continue to deteriorate over the next several hours. But come hell or high water, Joe is most confident on his boat.

SEMON: There's a lot of rain involved with it, so you'll have flooding in the low land areas, but here I am on the river, I'm already floating. So as long as the dock doesn't go above the pylons, we're safe.


HOWELL: So for those of you who may be worried about Joe Semon, don't worry too much, we have Joe on the phone with us now, live in his boat. Joe, tell us about the situation. How is it feeling there? What are your thoughts?

SEMON (via telephone): Well, I just had a bowl of soup which I heated on that stove that you saw earlier today that maintains a level surface. And earlier at 11:00 we had to go outside and -- and retie up the stern of a boat, several boats down from me.

There's a father and son on a boat on the opposite side. So they heard it and it was wet and windy but it was -- it was easy enough to walk on the dock at this time. I don't expect this to be like this though when the hurricane hits.

HOWELL: And Joe, I want to tell our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, your background I mean and experienced as seaman of 40 years. It is 40 years on the ocean. You know a thing or two about this. And you've certainly -- you've ridden out storms before in your boat.

Tell us your thoughts about this storm because again, earlier it seemed to be stronger before it got here. It has weakened a bit. What are your thought about it right now?

SEMON: Well I had some of my merchant marine friends who are monitoring the weather tell me to -- to go. I had some that told me that they wouldn't go. So it was really a personal decision.

[01:35:00] I know my boat and I've spent a lot of time making sure that it was rigged well. There will be a lot of boats that didn't make the preparations necessary and probably tomorrow you'll see them on the news washed up to shore or adrift.

Hopefully that won't be the case with my boat. I was prepared to leave. I'm going to reassess here after I get off the phone. I'm going to be checking my lines again. But at this point, I don't feel the need to egress just yet.

If I did need to go I would go up on the shore to that Marina Building that we have that we met you on.

HOWELL: You mentioned that you have a backup plan. You have planning in place and that is good to know. Joe -- before we let you go, I forgot to ask you the name of your boat.

SEMON: It is the Malihini. I learned that the Malihini means newcomer or visitor in Hawaiian. Well, I was in Waikiki many years ago, I was searching for a name. And a little tequila and some fun, we came up with the name -- the love hotel. HOWELL: Not a bad way to come up with the name. Joe Semon -- thank

you so much for you time. We're going to stay in touch with you and wish you safety as you continue to ride the storm out. Thank you so much.

You're watching CNN breaking news coverage here in Wilmington, North Carolina. I'm George Howell with the very latest. We'll have more for you right after the break. Stand by.


HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and around the world.

[01:39:54] We continue following the breaking news this hour here in Wilmington, North Carolina as Hurricane Florence is moving closer here to this city. That is where the eye wall is expected to make landfall in several hours to come, the storm moving at about five, six miles per hour at a snail's pace.

It's about 50 miles away from us right now. That's about 85 kilometers for viewers around the world. But it is coming this way and we're certainly feeling the effects.

One thing that we're keeping a good watch on here in Wilmington where we're near a river, you can see that there are boats behind me. We have a better shot to show you of these boats. Good to keep an eye on these boats because we had to watch the river.

It's very important to see what happens with the water because so much water is coming down from the sky, along with storm surge coming in from the ocean.

That's going to be telling, especially over the next several days. And keep in mind, all of the water upstream has to come downstream. These rivers will be very important to keep an watch on here in the next several days. This will be a multi-day event with us.

Let's now bring in my colleague, CNN correspondent Natasha Chen. You've been following this as well throughout the day. Your experience so far, what are your thoughts about the intensity of the storm?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you that around the noon hour when we were out driving around Wilmington, the only place open was Waffle House. And I know that we've done some reporting earlier about how seriously FEMA actually looks to Waffle House and when it got a limited menu and when it's shut down.

So at that point it was working off of limited menu -- everything else was closed in town. At this point I don't know that they're open.

Another indicator -- we saw a police car earlier here parked in this lot. That officer told us that when the wind speeds got up to about 75 miles per hour around here, they had to drive back to headquarters and hunker down there and wait for the storm to pass before they could come back out and help people. So I don't see that officer here anymore. I think the wind speeds have kind of picked up to around that level at this point.

You mentioned the boats back here. Some folks were telling us that in major hurricanes in the past, those boats have come up on land. So that was my concern whether we were going to be doing live shots on a boat tonight. But that's definitely something people are watching.

HOWELL: And you mentioned Waffle House. I can't think of how many chicken sandwiches I've had in the last several days. I think, yes.

You know, I also want to get a sense from you of the concern around flooding because as I mentioned a minute ago this will be a multi-day event -- Natasha. What are you hearing from officials about that?

CHEN: Yes. I think that a lot of people understand the threat of storm surge on the coast but they definitely wanted to emphasize that inland flooding is a real issue. We've talked about fact that injuries and deaths from previous hurricanes are largely water related. And they don't want people inland to be too complacent in this situation.

Right now we know that we're getting this deluge of almost 40 inches of rain where we're standing. And we could see in Wilmington eight months of rain in just a matter of three days. So just imagine all that water separate from what the storm surge is.

HOWELL: Natasha -- for people who are watching who left, the people who are watching worried about their property. From what you've seen driving around today and from what we're feeling with this storm, what can you tell them? Just, you know, about the property? Is there a strong sense of flooding, the wind? What is the most important factor of this storm?

CHEN: Well, we've definitely seen people take precautions with boarding up their windows, sandbags. Whoever put the port-a-potty on the corner -- that's probably not still going to be there by the time this is all said and done.

But I think that we are seeing decreasing wind speeds. That's probably a good thing. But the massive size of this storm and how slow it is churning is a real problem. So that may determine just how long this place gets drenched and that flooding will be dependent on that.

HOWELL: CNN correspondent Natasha Chen -- thank you so much for your time.

And look, you know, we're feeling the effects here but you know, where they're feeling the effects even more I think, our Derek Van Dam in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Derek -- take it away. What are you experiencing there?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: George I'm sure you're probably sure you're experiencing similar conditions to me. I guess I'm just a little bit closer to the coast than you are. But you really have to brace yourself for the wind gusts. We haven't had the sustained winds that you can just kind of lean into during these tropical storms and hurricanes. It is the occasional gusts just about hurricane force that really you have to prepare yourself for.

So if you're standing without bracing and having that position, you could fall over quite easily. So that's why you see the reporters in the field, including myself doing our awkward positions to hold ourselves up, right.

It's incredible what we've seen here so far. Even the animals are bracing themselves for this storm. I saw a bird literally trying to fly against the wind -- there's one of those gusts that I was talking about. Just incredible to see this.

[01:44:58] There's also a nuclear facility -- the Brunswick Nuclear Facility about 10 miles away from where we are located at Carolina Beach. And there's essential staff there now that is running the ship, keeping the ship going but they have closed down the two units there -- the cooling units.

And obviously they're monitoring this storm with very, very close, close proximity because they need to be able to monitor every little trend and every little jog, every little wobble that Hurricane Florence has been making.

You know, George -- that this has been a very fickle storm. But one thing is for sure, it is slowing down, but it is coming towards you and me. I think we're going to get a landfall and hurricane tonight. What do you think about that -- George?

HOWELL: We'll see. We'll see -- Derek, for sure. You mentioned that one bird. I'm surprised there's a bird there. Clearly this is a bird that did not follow, you know, its peers. That bird should have left with its peers because hey --


VAN DAM: He didn't get the evacuation orders.

HOWELL: Yes, ok. Derek -- another question for you. So, you know, your expertise around this storm look, it is coming in, we're feeling the effects. I just mentioned it is a multi-day event.

Play that forward for us because what we're feeling here, people are going to experience inland a lot of rain.

VAN DAM: So get this. Eight months worth of rain in 48 hours -- I mean that's astronomical, George. How do you even quantify that? Meteorologists -- I mean we dream of days like that. But here it is a reality for people and what they're facing in North and South Carolina. I mean it is incredible.

Also 48 hours of sustained tropical storm force winds, 24 hours of hurricane force winds -- that's 74 miles per hour or more. I mean there are very few structures that, you know, really that can withstand that type of winds for that long of event. That's the key here.

This is a long duration storm -- George. And people need to just be prepared for two days of bad weather. Back to you.

HOWELL: Derek Van Dam, live for us again in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. Derek -- we'll stay in touch with you. Thank you.

Again, life-threatening storm surge -- that is a major part of Hurricane Florence as it pushes inland. We've heard reports anywhere from 9 to 10 feet of storm surge so far along the coastline.

Our Tom Foreman breaks it all down for you.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A storm surge is not typically one big wave but rather a bulge of water, a series of waves being pushed toward the shore by the winds. And as they ride up on to the land, they can do tremendous damage.

Look at what a storm surge of two or three feet would look like on a house like this. That's more than enough to damage cars, to really hurt the house.

But when you talk about nine feet or more, as we are in some places here, then you have enough water to erode the foundation, to batter the top of the house and homes are really not meant to withstand such things. And a lot of them are in a danger zone here.

First of all, there are many of them on low-lying land with creeks and rivers that will funnel the storm surge toward them there's a shallow coastal shell which will allow the storm surge to get a lot of momentum and ride it right up on to the land. And lastly, this is a slow moving storm which means it will have a lot of time to push the water that direction.

Who is actually in danger? We take a look at the map over here. Every place that you see color is where we expect to have some kind of flooding. The red color indicates the heavier flooding there. And if we went one of these rivers here the noose river to, for example, this town, you would see the difference.

There if you had a picture before and one after, what we expect, this would be the difference that you would see. And bear in mind, this is 60 miles as the crow flies from the coast. A little closer, a little closer to the water -- here's another town, doesn't have as much in terms of danger spots. But there too, you could have some areas which go from this to this, and it happens fast.

And bear in mind, a cube of water, just four feet on all sides, a cube this size, weighs as much as an automobile. That's a tremendous amount of potential damage coming ashore.


HOWELL: Tom Foreman -- thank you so much. We've been covering this for several, several hours now. Our correspondents there when it was peaceful and there when it is not. We'll break the storm down as it rolls in right after the break.

Stay with us.


KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All eyes on Hurricane Florence -- this, threatening the coastal section of North Carolina within hours of making landfall. But already has produced a destructive storm surge at some of these low-lying coastal regions all the way from Morehead City, North Carolina down towards Wilmington.

But we're not finished yet. It is a Category 1 hurricane but it isn't going to be the wind that we're most concerned about. It will be the day's long rainfall that will inundate a lot of these low-lying areas not just in North Carolina but also extending into South Carolina and eventually into a tri-state area -- Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. Yes. It is expected to continue to weaken but the rainfall across this area could be staggering.

Then we look across the Caribbean, we watch a tropical storm. It looks like it is going to weaken over the next several days. Right now, the winds associated with it at 65 kilometers per hours, some gusts. It is moving very rapidly though unlike what is happening with Florence.

All right. Another disturbance a 50 percent chance of developing into something tropical over the next five days, about a 50-50 likelihood that we will see that. So lots of tropical activity to watch over the next few days and we'll keep you updated on that.

HOWELL: We're here in Wilmington, North Carolina following this storm as it moves here into the southeast coast of the United States. Again, the storm moving at six miles per hour, at a snail's pace. But it is on track, the eye wall here toward this city.

We've had our correspondents here in the region throughout the last several days and we want to give you a snapshot of what led up to this moment -- the sights and sounds of Hurricane Florence.


(11:00 a.m.)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just the beginning. It hasn't even gotten here yet and there's already water, bottom parts of people's houses.

(5:00 p.m.)



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to get out of the building because of flooding. And we don't know what the game plan is just yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evacuating from the TV station. We're out here getting rained on. We'll get to drive around at some point.

[01:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We made it out. We hope you're safe and ok.


(9:00 p.m.)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're watching businesses right now. And I have to be careful because I'm going to be stepping up on a curb right here. But you can see. They've got their boarded up windows, (INAUDIBLE) strong here. We're seeing this across the entire city right now.

Unfortunately we've already been able to see some of that the flooding go inside of these businesses in downtown right now.

(10:00 p.m.)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you this car here, these people are just kind of taking a look at the storm surge and we're getting hit with another really heavy band of wind here.

The rain has lightened up just slightly but we expect that it's going to come back.

(11:00 p.m.)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're seeing some of the hardest rain that we've seen all evening tonight right now. This on top of what they expect is a storm surge of about 11, 12 feet or so with the tide that is coming every 12 hours. We could -- and we've been looking at something like 18, 19 feet.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We're watching very closely the river which -- you know, we're not expecting to crest until Tuesday. So there's a long, you know, couple of days still to come. It is going to be miserable for a number of days for o people, and you know they just got to -- to -- to buckle down and stay where they are and try to get through this as best they can.


HOWELL: And here we are now. The storm moving ever closer to Wilmington, North Carolina.

I'm George Howell. Our breaking news coverage continues right after the break.

Stay with us.