Hurricane Florence: Trump declares North Carolina a ‘major disaster’

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Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 68 trillion litres of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

Still, some residents ignored calls to evacuate. The storm is expected to lumber into far southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC through Saturday, punishing the area with rain and damaging winds.

The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, population 200,000.

Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles.

As of 8:00 am (1200 GMT), maximum sustained winds had weakened to near 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, but the NHC warned residents of risky storm surges and "catastrophic flash flooding".

By Friday evening, the centre of the storm had moved to eastern SC, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. Those speeds will remain consistent until winds die down Sunday.

Parts of North and SC were forecast to get as much as one metre of rain.

He said five deaths were confirmed from the storm in North Carolina and "several others are under investigation", and urged people to heed evacuation orders.

Across North Carolina, more than 65 school districts are closed, and almost all University of North Carolina system schools have cancelled classes. That is roughly double the rainfall from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, he said.

The White House announced that President Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for North Carolina, which will make federal money available to people in the counties of Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, and Pender. It further provides assistance to individuals for rent payments for emergency lodging, home repairs, payments to cover unemployment caused by the storm and other assistance, the release said.

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Tropical Storm Florence is continuing to dump unsafe amounts of rain as it continues its slow slog across the Carolinas.

Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will become a tropical storm tomorrow (Sept. 15) over SC, continue northwest to eastern Kentucky, then swing northeast and track over most of New England early next week.

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour as of 5 a.m., the briefing said. It's since slowed down even more than it had been - moving west at just 2 miles per hour. Storm totals could reach between 30 and 40 inches in some areas.

Major river flooding expected to continue into early next week. Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.

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The center of the storm is over eastern SC, but rain is continuing to fall throughout the state and is particularly heavy in the southern counties.

Florence's fatality count rose to seven on September 15, as the storm continued hammering the Carolinas and surrounding states.

Any returning evacuees have been warned that flooding may last in the eastern Carolinas into next week, inclusive of flooding across roadways and into homes. Meat companies including Tyson Foods Inc., Smithfield Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride Corp. and Wayne Farms LLC shut down operations from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. Hundreds more were rescued elsewhere from rising water.

Today Florence is forecast to slowly creep farther inland along the Carolinas. In perspective, Florence could drop up to eight months of rain in two or three days.

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington.

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