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Wednesday, August 26, 1998 Published at 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK

World: Americas

Taking the brunt of Bonnie

Heavy surf pounds a pier in North Carolina

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant reports from Wilmington in North Carolina which is expected to take the brunt of Hurricane Bonnie:

For several hours, North and South Carolina have been deluged by heavy rains and buffeted by wind gusts of up to 160km an hour.

Trees are starting to break up and are dropping branches onto roads; power lines have snapped and are arching dangerously as they flail around like snakes.

Rivers are running perilously close to the tops of riverbanks and, with an extra three to four metres of water predicted at high tide, it seems inevitable that there will be some flooding in low-lying areas.

At Wrightsville Beach, where a lone police car blocked foolhardy drivers from venturing across a vulnerable bridge, a river was running at more than 30km an hour with white caps on the waves.

Boats in a marina there were on the verge of breaking loose from their moorings.

As the eye of the storm draws ever closer to Wilmington, debris is starting to fly around like unguided missiles and most people are adhering to advice and taking shelter.

With electricity and telephone lines cut, many people are now deprived of information from local TV and radio stations.

Only a handful of fast-food restaurants have stayed open and they are doing brisk business.

Most hotels and motels inland are fully occupied by evacuees and there is nothing for them to do except to sit back and enjoy the crates of beer that they have shipped in, because the storm is only going to get worse.

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