Hurricane Florence plows inland, leaving five dead, states flooded

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Hurricane Florence, weakened but still risky, has crashed into the Carolinas on Friday as a giant, slow-moving storm that stranded residents with floodwaters and swamped part of the town of New Bern at the beginning of what could be a days-long deluge.

Tropical Storm Florence continues to dump record rain on eastern North Carolina and northeastern SC.

Florence remains a tropical storm and it continues to be almost stationary over the Carolinas.

As of 5:00 am (0900 GMT), maximum sustained winds had weakened to near 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, but the NHC warned residents of unsafe storm surges and "catastrophic flash flooding".

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline. It was moving at a paltry 5 miles per hour.

Firefighters and rescue crews pray in front of a home after removing a resident trapped inside during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018.

Florence will ultimately lose its tropical designation sometime Saturday, but the storm will continue be a danger as it starts to turn north by Sunday afternoon.

North Carolina TV station evacuates due to rising waters
A fourth person was killed while plugging in a generator in Lenoir County, north of Wilmington , WITN-TV reported. More than 1.7 million people in Virginia, North and SC were told to evacuate ahead of Florence's arrival.

More than 1.7 million people evacuated this week, leaving behind homes, schools and precious belongings.

"[It's] very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house, told The Associated Press.

Two people died in Lenoir County.

A woman and her child died after a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina, the first reported fatalities from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall earlier on Friday.

In the besieged city of New Bern, rescuers had plucked more than 200 people from rising waters by midmorning Friday, but about 150 more had to wait as conditions worsened and a storm surge reached 10 feet, officials said.

Myrtle Beach area residents checking the weather Saturday morning were led to believe that local emergency personnel had suspended services due to Tropical Storm Florence, but that was never the case.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted.

As hurricane bears down on Carolinas, the waiting is over
Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The storm crossed the Gulf Stream on Thursday and slowed dramatically, to just 5 miles per hour , as it approached land.

Jay Manning said he and his wife watched with alarm as water filled the street.

"The amount of water coming in to the Piedmont Triad is going to be massive", she said, adding that the Piedmont Triad will get anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of rain. "My wife's in a panic right now".

New Bern resident Latasha Jones is one of the more fortunate ones. Eudy and his family stayed home in New Bern in part to protect their house. "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was", he said.

Florence "will continue to track slowly inland through the Carolinas this weekend", the National Weather Service said in its 8:00 a.m. update Saturday. Many locations in southeast North Carolina are likely smash this old record by the time the rain ends. In South Carolina there were 7,000 people staying in shelters, according to the state's emergency management office. Many areas in southeastern North Carolina have endured 15 to 30 inches of rain, and up to 15 more could fall.

The White House on Saturday said President Donald Trump had approved making federal funding available in some counties. Trump planned a visit to the region next week.

Additional rainfall will exacerbate flooding conditions as heavy rain bands continue to move through North and SC.

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