Astronauts on International Space Station showcase power of Hurricane Florence in photos

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Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90 miles per hour winds and terrifying storm surge early Friday, ripping apart buildings and knocking out power to a half-million homes and businesses as it settled in for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching. Coastal Flooding: Outside the Storm Surge Watch area, minor coastal flooding could occur around the time of each high tide through at least late week. "To those in the storm's path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place".

Other top commercial property insurers in the region include The Travelers Companies, Chubb Ltd. and a USA subsidiary of Zurich Insurance Group, Moody's said.

At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other storms, Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac, but neither packs the deadly punch of Florence.

The hurricane was about 470 miles (755 km) east-southeast of Myrtle beach SC, with maximum sustained winds of 125 miles per hour (205 km/h), the Miami, Florida-based weather forecaster said.

The declaration covers nearly the entire state and includes Coweta County and the surrounding area. Those areas are expected to experience tropical storm conditions and rainfall amount of up to 8 inches, and Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands facing possible isolated amounts on 4 inches.

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Authorities in New Bern said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit the GEMA/HS website here.

Hurricane Irma destroyed Kathy Griffin's house in Florida previous year, and it could be days before she finds out whether Florence smashed her fifth-story condominium in Wrightsville Beach, where authorities said utilities could be out for days or weeks.

We'll keep you updated on this system in the coming days.

Video reports from several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through thigh-high water in residential neighbourhoods. "This is not going to be a glancing blow", Byard explained.

The shift south and west will encompass more of SC and western North Carolina. Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.

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The Union Point Park Complex is seen flooded as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. The latest forecast indicates that Florence could stall over or close to southeast North Carolina Friday, then could drift west or southwest this weekend.

The U.S. Coast Guard closed ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina and Hampton Roads, Virginia to inbound vessels greater than 500 tons and was requiring vessels of that size to leave if they did not have permission to be in the ports.

Maysie Baumgardner, 7, and her family sheltered at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as the hurricane filled the streets with floodwaters.

"It looks heavy outside", she said. "I'm a little bit scared right now, but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix".

The storm's centre was about 50 miles south of Morehead City at around 11 p.m. (0300 GMT Friday).

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