In a video from WVEC photojournalist Jon Goodwin, the winds from the Category 1 hurricane give an eery vibe to the ferris wheel on Virginia Beach. The 10-second clip shows the cars seemingly moving of their own accord around the wheel against a dark early morning sky.
Despite a mandatory evacuation for residents in the region's low-lying areas, Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen told residents in the southeastern part of the city to wait and see what happens, adding that the area would not see the worst of Florence.
"We are going to see moderate coastal flooding, but not anything unusual," Hansen said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. "We are breathing a sigh of relief."
Nearly 300 miles away in Wrightsville Beach, however, the scene is not as calm. The eye of the storm made its way onto land around 7:15 a.m. ET Friday, bringing with it gusts of 90 miles per hour winds and heavy rain. Despite the fact that the storm has been downgraded to Category 1, forecasters still warn of the devastating effects of floodwaters and swells that will come with the storm.
Storm surges could reach up to 11 feet, which could cause catastrophic flooding. The National Hurricane Center said in its 7 a.m. ET update that a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina recently recorded 6.1 feet above normal water levels.
Officials warned those in Florence's path to evacuate earlier this week, as state infrastructure would not hold up against the winds and flooding. Even before Florence officially made landfall, it had already caused more than 320,000 power outages in North Carolina and 4,400 more in South Carolina.
"Heavy rains and high winds are likely to spread across North Carolina and linger for days," Gov. Roy Cooper said at a news conference. "As Florence moves inland, we'll see more rain and more flooding from our rivers. And remember that rivers keep on rising even after the rain stops."
"The power is going to go out. It could go out for a number of days, it could go out for weeks. It's very hard to say at this point," Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Brock Long said at a press conference Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, first responders in New Bern, North Carolina scrambled Friday morning to rescue stranded residents due to raging flood waters. Town officials said at least 150 people were "awaiting rescue" early Friday morning as the storm approached land.
"More are on the way to help us," New Bern officials tweeted early Friday. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU."