RALEIGH, N.C. -- Hurricane Florence has made landfall in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina as a Category 1 with a life-threatening storm surge that pushed water inland for miles, pelting rains and screaming winds that destroyed buildings in its path.
More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.
The powerful storm inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power. Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.
As of 6 a.m., Florence was centered just 10 miles (20 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).
Winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power. Forecasters said the onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.