From the Field

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

At least 51 people have died in the Carolinas from Hurricane Florence, which caused widespread flooding and set rain records in many areas of North Carolina.

Florence is considered the wettest tropical system to hit North Carolina, according to the Weather Channel, and some parts received nearly 3 feet of rain.

As rivers rose to flood stage within a few days of the storm, the Associated Press reported that 185 of the 1,445 dams in North Carolina were rated as poor or unsatisfactory during recent inspections.

In the month since Florence came ashore, World Vision has served about 15,600 people in some of the worst-affected areas.

You can deliver hope and practical help when disasters like Hurricane Florence strike.

Hurricane Florence timeline

  • 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.
  • Sept. 18: Florence is downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, sustaining winds of 25 mph.

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
  • By 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm as it poured rain across the Carolinas and moved northeast
  • Early on Sunday, Sept. 16, it diminished to a tropical depression, with winds of about 35 mph
  • By September 18, downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, sustaining winds of just 25 mph


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 were 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.


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?

Since Florence, World Vision has served about 15,600 people in some of the worst-affected areas.

We partnered with Fayetteville Dream Center to set up a shelter at Manna Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Staff from Dream Center, the church, and World Vision served evacuees there and began providing relief supplies Sunday, Sept. 16. We also provided truckloads of supplies to church partners to distribute in Lumberton, Jacksonville, and Kinston, North Carolina within the first week of the storm.

Relief supplies included 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 sent another 15 trucks from our field sites in West Virginia, North Texas, and Hartford, Connecticut.

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 in the U.S. affected by disasters like Hurricane Florence desperately need.


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

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

Disaster Relief

View All Stories
A bird’s-eye view of three Syrian children sitting on rubble in front of a small smoldering fire.
From the Field

2023 Turkey and Syria earthquake: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Healthcare worker in Zambia gives a COVID-19 shot into the arm of a man wearing a black T-shirt that reads “WASH YOUR HANDS.”
From the Field

What is coronavirus? Facts, FAQs, and how to help