From the Field

2018 Hurricane Florence: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

At least 37 people have died from Hurricane Florence, which has caused widespread flooding and set rain records in many areas of North Carolina. Fewer than 200,000 people remain without power.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 18, the storm had been downgraded from a tropical depression and was moving northeast. Parts of several rivers in North Carolina are already at major flood stage and are still rising. Florence is considered the wettest tropical system to hit North Carolina, according to the Weather Channel, and some parts had nearly 3 feet of rain.

“I cannot overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren’t watching for them, you are risking your life,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says in a Sept. 15 Associated Press report. “It’s an uninvited brute who doesn’t want to leave.”

Along with the flooding, dam failures are also a concern, as the Associated Press reports that 185 of the 1,445 dams in North Carolina were rated as poor or unsatisfactory during recent inspections. Tornadoes were another threat Monday morning as forecasters issued warnings in North Carolina and Virginia.

Help people affected by Hurricane Florence.

FAQs: What you need to know about Hurricane Florence

Explore frequently asked questions about hurricanes and Hurricane Florence, including how you can help people affected by the storm.

Fast facts: Hurricane Florence

  • Began as a tropical storm Sept. 1 over the Cabo Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa
  • Peaked as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 140 mph
  • Made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane Sept. 14 over Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
  • Currently a tropical depression moving northeast


Where did Hurricane Florence make landfall?

Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane the morning of Friday, Sept. 14 over Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the South Carolina border. The hurricane came ashore with 90-mph winds and punishing storm surge.

States of emergency had been declared in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. North Carolina alone was forecasted to receive 9.6 trillion gallons of rain, enough to cover the entire state in 10 inches of water.


How did Hurricane Florence develop?

    • Sept. 1: A weather system in the Atlantic becomes a tropical storm and is named Florence.
    • Sept. 4: Tropical Storm Florence grows into a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, becoming the third hurricane to form during the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. By the end of the day, it strengthens to a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.
    • Sept. 5: Florence becomes a major hurricane — the first of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season. It grows to a Category 3, then a Category 4, then weakens to a Category 3. Sustained winds peak at 130 mph.
    • Sept. 6: Florence weakens to a tropical storm but is forecasted to strengthen again.
    • Sept. 9: Florence grows back into a hurricane.
    • Sept. 10: Florence quickly grows into a major hurricane, becoming a Category 3 and then a Category 4 with sustained wind speeds up to 140 mph. The White House approves an emergency declaration ahead of the storm hitting the Carolinas.
    • Sept. 12: Hurricane Florence weakens to a Category 2, but the storm remains large in width and slows down.
    • Sept. 14: Florence makes landfall — moving 6 mph with maximum sustained winds near 90 mph — as a Category 1 hurricane near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, at 7:15 a.m. Eastern time. The storm slows to only 3 mph and weakens to a tropical storm by the end of the day.
    • Sept. 15: Florence is a 350-mile-wide tropical storm that is dumping massive amounts of rain throughout the Carolinas. Some areas experience record rainfall with widespread flooding and predictions for it to get worse. Winds have lessened to 45 mph.
    • Sept. 16: Some areas receive as much as 34 inches of rain from Sept. 13 to Sept. 16.
    • Sept. 17: Floodwaters continue to rise, blocking 1,200 roads in North Carolina. Tornadoes are prevalent across North Carolina and Virginia. Florence is downgraded from a tropical depression.


What other major hurricanes have hit North Carolina and South Carolina?

The strongest major hurricane to make landfall there was Hurricane Hazel in 1954, which made landfall right over the North Carolina and South Carolina border on Oct. 15, 1954. Hurricane Hazel, packing winds of 130 mph, destroyed 15,000 homes and killed 19 people in North Carolina. Since then, North and South Carolinians have weathered dozens of hurricanes of varying force and impact.


How is World Vision responding to Hurricane Florence?

World Vision has partnered with the Fayetteville Dream Center to set up a shelter at Manna Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Staff from Dream Center, the church, and World Vision are serving evacuees here and began providing relief supplies Sunday, Sept. 16.

These relief supplies include food, water, temporary shelter items (such as tents and sleeping bags), hygiene items, coolers, blankets, diapers, clothing, and flood cleanup kits.

An assessment team arrived in North Carolina ahead of the storm on Friday, Sept. 14. By early morning as the storm came ashore, a semitruck full of World Vision relief supplies arrived at a community partner’s facility in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We had positioned relief supplies nearby in Georgia and South Carolina in order to significantly reduce the transit time of getting those supplies into the areas that need them.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, we dispatched five semitrucks full of supplies from our north Texas field site and one from our warehouse near Seattle. We are sending another 15 trucks from our field sites in West Virginia, North Texas, and Hartford, Connecticut.

“This first shipment of aid supplies will reach 5,000 to 7,500 people impacted by the storm,” says Reed Slattery, World Vision’s national gifts-in-kind program director.

Working with church and community partners in affected areas allows our response teams to mobilize quickly from our domestic disaster response hub in North Texas and our field site in Philippi, West Virginia.

“Our biggest concern is that this isn’t something that we’ll respond to just overnight,” says Quincy Walker, World Vision’s Pacific Northwest field site manager who deployed to North Carolina. “We’re here to see this thing through and let families know we love them.”


How can I help people in Hurricane Florence’s path?

Pray: Please join us in prayer for people affected by Hurricane Florence. Almighty Father, we ask for Your care and protection for people affected by Florence and its destructive flooding. Give them the assurance of Your presence and equip those who will provide relief and assistance after the storm passes. Strengthen the minds and bodies of first responders for the days ahead.

Give: Your gift will help to provide urgent relief that people affected by Hurricane Florence desperately need.



Heather Klinger and Kristy J. O’Hara-Glaspie of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this article.

Learn more about hurricanes — how they form and how to prepare.

Disaster Relief

View All Stories
One of the costliest hurricanes in U.S. history, Hurricane Sandy brought 90 mph winds and record-breaking storm surges to New York City and other coastal areas of the East Coast.
From the Field

2012 Hurricane Sandy: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

The deadly EF5 Moore Oklahoma tornado in May 2013 with winds of 200 mph cut a 14-mile long gash of destruction through Moore, Oklahoma. It was then followed by more tornadoes, leaving 47 dead and more than $2 billion in damage.
From the Field

2013 Moore, Oklahoma, tornado: Facts, FAQs, and how to help