The 100-mile-per-hour winds have begun to subside as the Category 1 Hurricane Florence slowly crossed the North Carolina coast this afternoon, but the enormous rainfall the stalled system has dumped on the area remains the top logistics concern, as widespread coastal flooding (see map above) and a 10-foot-high storm surge have left at least 30,000 homes and businesses without power across the state.
Due to extensive flooding, several airports in the mid-Atlantic region remain closed to flights, while highways across a vast area are impassable for trucks, bringing logistics operations to a halt up and down the Eastern Seaboard. By the afternoon, at least two people were reported killed by a tree falling on a home in Wilmington, N.C.
As Florence approached the city of Wrightsville Beach, American Airlines Cargo said it would be embargoing all airfreight operations from Wed., Sept. 12, through this evening at Wilmington (ILM) and Charleston (CHS) airports, and from yesterday through Saturday at Raleigh-Durham (RDU) and Greenville (GSP) airports in the Carolinas.
United Cargo also declared restrictions on all cargo and mail shipments in and out of RDU, CHS and ILM, as well as airport to the north and south of Florence’s expected path, in Columbia, S.C. (CAE); Myrtle Beach, S.C. (MYR); Norfolk, Va. (ORF); and Savannah, Ga. (SAV).
Since Wednesday, Delta Cargo said it has canceled nearly 200 scheduled flights as a result of Florence and “will maintain a close watch over airport infrastructure and areas with severe flooding that could impede safe flight operations.” As of today, Delta’s operations have ceased at airports in Fayetteville, N.C. (FAY), Jacksonville, N.C. (OAJ), and New Bern, N.C. (EWN), as well as at MYR and ILM. The carriers added that operations “could reopen this weekend pending assessments of airport facilities and infrastructure.”
As of mid-day Friday, disaster relief organization Airlink said that about 200 people had been rescued from the flooded coastal areas. Airlink said it is supporting six humanitarian partners – Feed the Children, All Hands and Hearts, Mobile Medics International, Global Outreach Doctors, Operation BBQ Relief, and Save the Children – which are already on the ground in the devastated region, with more volunteers expecting to arrive over the weekend.
Airlink, which helps connect more than 35 commercial and charter airlines to 80+ pre-qualified international nonprofits, said it is working with its cargo carriers partners, coordinating agencies, and North and South Carolina state volunteer organizations “to determine the most effective response” to the ongoing Florence crisis.