Hurricane Florence made landfall on the coast of North Carolina just after 7 a.m. Friday morning, and even as a downgraded Category 1 storm, the state is already being pummeled with 90 mph winds and heavy rains that will continue to push inland and onto South Carolina in the coming days. Many parts of the state issued mandatory evacuations, and rescuers are already working hard to save people who have been forced into attics or onto rooftops to escape floodwaters.
One area hit particularly hard was New Bern, a coastal city situated at the intersection of the Nueces and Trent rivers, which has already seen a storm surge of 10 feet. Even the city’s local WCTI News Channel 12 was not immune to the flooding. Yet, meteorologists Donnie Cox and Shane Hinton remained dedicated to keeping the public informed as the storm approached on Thursday evening, even as the very station they broadcasted from was being evacuated — as you can see in the above live coverage.
Just 20 minutes later however, it became apparent that the situation was getting dire and Cox was forced to turn things over to WCTI’s sister station in Myrtle Beach, eerily walking out in the middle of the live broadcast.
WCTI general manager Matt Bowman explained the station’s decision in a statement on Friday:
“Our first priority is always the safety and well-being of our staff and we are happy to report that all employees from the WCTI station are safe following a sudden evacuation. Our commitment to delivering critical information to our viewers can, at times, put us in harm’s way, particularly with major weather-related events. As such, we were continuously in contact with our WCTI team throughout the week as we monitored the situation and planned for contingencies. When the conditions in the area intensified suddenly, we made the call to have our news staff evacuate the area and team up with our sister station WPDE in Myrtle Beach to continue covering the storm and providing our viewers with vital, potentially life-saving, information.”
NewsChannel 12 shared early photos of the damage prior to evacuation, and we’re likely only going to see many more like this in the coming days.