According to poweroutage.us, more than 500,000 customers in North Carolina and 50,000 in SC were without power on Friday morning, though the Weather Channel estimates up to 3 million customers could lose power in the Carolinas due to Florence.
The National Weather Service is predicting "catastrophic flash flooding" along the coastline of the Carolinas. The Category 1 storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour and is moving slowly, at 6 miles per hour.
The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help. New Bern is about 32 miles north of Morehead City, North Carolina, and 101 miles southeast of Raleigh.
Tom Balance, owner of a seafood restaurant in New Bern, had decided against evacuating his home and was soon alarmed to see waves coming off the Neuse and the water getting higher and higher. The city said two FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more were on the way. According to forecasters, the center of Florence is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday. He was pleased to get the texts, a sign that he still had cell phone reception, and made a decision to go rev up his generator that is now powering is refrigerator and his satellite TV, which he's spent a portion of Friday watching. More than 1.7 million were ordered to evacuate in advance of the storm.
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Members of the Louisiana Cajun Navy were assisting with rescue operations but later moved to Wilmington after emergency responders said conditions were under control.
North Carolina utilities have estimated that as many as 2.5 million state residents could be left without power, the state's Department of Public Safety said.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been forced to evacuate as Hurricane Florence battered the eastern coast of the U.S., including more than 3,000 prisoners who have been relocated from jails in the path of Florence. The Ahold Delhaize USA chain said on its website that it has temporarily shut 126 stores in North Carolina, 53 in SC and four in Virginia.
These types of slow-moving storms - like Hurricane Harvey - can be particularly risky because of the rain and flooding they can bring.
The effects of Hurricane Florence can already be felt along the coast of North Carolina as of 12 p.m. on September 13.
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Hurricane-force winds extend out for 80 miles and the tropical-storm-force winds reach 195 miles out from the center. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers.
In Wilmington, near where the eye of the hurricane touched down, trees and power lines were down and many windows had been broken.
They were the first known deaths attributed to Tropical Storm Florence, which was a Category 1 hurricane when it struck the city.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the tweet said.
More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.
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It has already caused thousands of people to evacuate from their homes because of possible flooding. Bennie Thompson, ranking member of the committee, said in a statement Wednesday.