Four dead as Florence drenches the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence's came ashore at Wrightsville Beach, near Wilmington, N.C., at 7:15 a.m. ET on Friday with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

As 400-mile-wide Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach scores of people besieged by rising waters along a river.

But authorities said more than 60 people, including many children and pets, had to be evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse.

More than 600,000 people had already lost power by 1 p.m. Friday, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety reported.

The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.

It is expected to move across parts of south-eastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. Hurricane Florence hit Wilmington as a category 1 storm causing widespread damage and flooding along the Carolina coastline.

At least 150 people are still waiting to be rescued from the attics and rooftops of their homes as of 1 p.m. Friday, said New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw, whose adult daughter had 1 foot of water in her own home, he said.

"The National Hurricane Center said Florence is moving very slowly to the west at only 6 miles an hour, then is expected to turn to the southwest, increasing the threat for historic storm surge and catastrophic flooding to coastline areas and inland cities in North Carolina and SC".

Hurricane Florence, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, hammered Wilmington, NC on Friday.

Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.

Hurricane Florence still a threat despite downgrade
Officials in the potential path of Florence urged people to evacuate their coastal homes and directed drivers away from the coast. Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.

The effects of Hurricane Florence can already be felt along the coast of North Carolina as of 12 p.m. on September 13.

"This storm will bring destruction", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

"This storm has been hovering over us for a while, and we expect it to continue to hover over us", Parker said.

Parts of North and SC were forecast to get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter).

That deluge will lead to "catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged, significant river flooding", according to the NHC. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons (36 trillion litres), enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimetres).

In Wilmington, near where the eye of the hurricane touched down, trees and power lines were down and many windows had been broken.

Airlines canceled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday. The highest numbers are being reported in New Hanover County.

Earlier Friday, the Wilmington Police said they were responding to this incident. It also led many people to mock the reporter for his demeanor reporting on the storm. Local media said she had suffered a heart attack.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.

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