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Thursday, September 16, 1999 Published at 07:40 GMT 08:40 UK

World: Americas

Eyewitness: Floyd fury arrives

There were already floods before the hurricane made landfall

By News Online's Kevin Anderson in Wilmington

Hurricane Floyd is lashing the North Carolina coast of the US with torrential rains and 60mph (100kph) winds.

In the day and a half before Floyd made landfall, the storm had already dumped more than 13 inches (33cm) of rain on the North Carolina city of Wilmington, flooding streets and parks and causing asphalt roads to buckle.

[ image: A few hours ago Floyd was picture heading towards the coast]
A few hours ago Floyd was picture heading towards the coast
Emergency officials fear that intense storm winds will easily topple trees in the supersaturated soil.

City parks were turned into ponds, and streets into streams.

Some drivers were forced to abandon their cars after they lost control on waterlogged streets and slid into ditches overflowing with water. The cars were left, with water lapping against their windscreens.

No one home

Police imposed a 10 o'clock curfew in Wilmington, but even before then, the city was a ghost town.

Heavy plywood covered the windows of many shops, and the windows of many others were criss-crossed with tape to strengthen them against the winds that could exceed 100mph.

More than 2.6 million people left their homes in advance of Hurricane Floyd, making it the largest peacetime evacuation in the history of the US.

All but a handful of people had left outlying islands along the North Carolina coast, which is expected to take the full force of the storm.

Community centres and schools have been converted to emergency shelters for people who lived in beachfront communities, low-lying areas and mobile homes.

Blowing in the wind

[ image: Most people who can, have followed guidelines and left]
Most people who can, have followed guidelines and left
Conditions in Wilmington are worsening. Winds are now gusting up to 60mph, as the storm tracks towards the city.

The storm has made landfall and weather officials are expecting tides several feet higher than normal.

Traffic lights are swinging like bells in the roaring winds, and debris is being swept down city streets.

What North Carolina is experiencing now, the rest of the east seaboard is bracing for as the storm rakes the coast.

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