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Hurricane Florence

North Carolina - Sept. 13-15 2018
Hurricane Florence was threatening to crash into the North Carolina coastline as a devastating category 4 storm. Luckily, the hurricane encountered dry air & wind shear and weakened right before making landfall. Despite the weakening, it was still a high-impact event, mainly because of the slow-moving nature of the storm, which caused the area to be subjected to high winds and flooding rains for several days. I was in the storm, along with a team from The Weather Network.

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The track of hurricane Florence. Aiming straight for the Wilmington, North Carolina area.
The Stormhunters team. Myself, Mark Robinson, and Mark Robinson. We provided numerous live reports before, during and after the storm. These aired on The Weather Network, CBC, and CNN.

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Some of the shelves at the local Wal-Mart were stripped bare as people prepared for the coming storm.
We gathered up whatever food and supplies we could, knowing that the slow moving nature of the storm meant that we might be here for several days without power.
The Waffle House was the only place that stayed open. They only closed for a brief period during the height of the storm. Their menu kept dwindling as the disaster unfolded, but we were able to get hot meals thanks to their perserverence (and generator power).

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The day before the storm hit, we filmed some of the preparations on the barrier islands. Many residents decorated their boarded up windows.
As much as they wanted Flo to go away... The storm was inevitable coming.
As the storm started to ramp up, we were able to get out to Topsail Beach, which is a very vulnerable barrier island. We stayed there until late in the day when the police asked everyone to leave.

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This was a common sight as the tremendous rainfall amounts started to cause inland freshwater flooding. This was one of the roads that led to our hotel... We found another way.
We met up with several other storm chaser friends, including Scott McPartland, Dave Lewison and Tim Millar. Tim brought his camp stove, so we had had hot canned ravioli. It was delicious. At one point, they did accidentally set off the hotel fire alarm... oops!
Downtown Wilmington, in the eye wall. The strongest part of the storm. There were tremendous gusts with flying debris, and transformers exploding around us.

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In the calm eye of the storm. Florence made landfall as a strong category 2 storm, but the eye was calm and still, with only slight drizzle.
North Carolina has a lot of big, leafy trees with shallow roots. Once the ground gets saturated, and the wind starts to blow, thousands of them come down
A shredded gas station. The lightweight canopy easily catches the wind and gets destroyed.

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An abandoned vehicle in the floodwaters. One of many we saw as we attempted to navigate around the flooded areas.
This highway was cut off unless you had a high-clearance vehicle. This car stalled out and was left behind.
We witnessed the rescue of a family by a swift water rescue team. The family drove into the floodwaters and their car stalled. We interviewed them afterwards, gave them some food and water, then drove to find the rest of their family to let them know they were OK.

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Downtown Wilmington. The Cape Fear river has overflowed its banks and inundated the tourist area of downtown, right along the appropriately named Water Street.
flooded Downtown Wilmington. I could look out at the river and see that the storm surge was causing the river to flow backwards.
The storm took about three days to pass, and as we ventured about, we saw numerous parking lots like this one, flooded out.

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Countless roads were blocked by downed trees. Crews were pretty fast at getting out there with chain saws and heavy machinery to get them cleared.
A whole fleet of trucks in the floodwaters. Some areas received 800-900mm of rain.
It's not only trees that came down. Countless power poles and electrical lines were destroyed, leaving the entire area without power.

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The roof of this industrial building was shredded and blown all over the neighborhood. We had to be careful, Mark stepped on a nail, and injured his foot. Luckily, not too badly.
Yet another downed tree. Note how the sidewalk came up when the tree fell.
Trying the head home was a challenge. most roads were either flooded, or had been washed out like this one. We eventually found a small country road that was passable.

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