Deadly Florence trudges inland in Carolinas with 'epic' rain, flooding

Credit PA

Credit PA

After landfall, Florence slowed to a pace that meant it would plague the area with days of flooding.

The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7:15am (local time) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 150kph, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

Trump ordered federal aid to supplement recovery efforts beginning September 7 in areas affected by Florence, which made landfall early Friday as a Category 1 hurricane, the White House said.

By Friday evening, the Cape Fear River in Wilmington saw storm surge flowing north being met with rainwater flowing west, giving the water nowhere to go.

The storm is likely to bring significant rain to the Carolinas, where some places could see upwards of 20 inches, the update said.

Through Sunday morning, over a foot of rain is expected to fall in and around Wilmington, adding to the 6 or so inches of rain the city has already received from Florence. Rescue crews used boats to carry more than 360 people from rising water in the river town of New Bern, North Carolina, while many of their neighbors awaited help.

In New Bern, North Carolina, the National Weather Service said there was 10ft of water.

"I'm anxious about what I might find when I go home, though", she said. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they are seeing the floodwaters rise".

The White House said Friday U.S. President Donald Trump will travel to areas hit by Hurricane Florence next week, once it has been determined that his travel would not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has been lashed by torrential rains and near-hurricane force winds, CBS News correspondent Don Dahler reported.

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Winds bent trees towards the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power. Downed trees blocked the road, making it impossible for paramedics to get to her.

"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.

"Florence slowly weakening just inland over eastern SC but causing catastrophic flooding over North and SC", the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early Saturday morning, after downgrading it from a hurricane to a tropical storm the previous day.

Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and that restoring it could take weeks.

On Thursday, Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds (193 km).

At 2 p.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. That should spell some relief for the inundated areas of Onslow county, but unfortunately puts the city of Wilmington, southeast coastal communities of North Carolina and northeast areas of SC in the line of fire instead.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm as it moved further inland in the days ahead.

The rising sea crept towards the two-storey home of Tom Copeland, who lives on a spit of land surrounded by water in Swansboro.

In Wilmington, the storm tore down numerous trees when its centre tore through the area on Friday morning.

"It looks heavy outside", she said.

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