Four killed as Hurricane Florence swamps Carolinas

Hurricane Florence from above: Startling images of the huge storm from the International Space Station

As of Thursday morning, forecast models showed the storm bringing more rain than originally thought - officials now predict 35 inches of rain will fall in a two-day period as Florence, now a Category 2 storm with 115 miles per hour sustained winds, will stall over Wilmington after making landfall early Friday morning.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm.

There have been numerous calls for fallen trees, according to officials, however they are not aware of any others where people are trapped.

"Currently 150 awaiting rescue in New Bern", City Hall said on Twitter. "We've got some roof issues, parts of roof are coming off and we've got some fences coming down".

Hurricane Florence has knocked out power for more than half a million people less than 24 hours after coming ashore in North Carolina.

"I had a lot of fear initially but I'm glad to be inside and safe", said Zelda Allen, 74, a retired tax accountant from Hampstead, North Carolina, who was riding out the storm at Wilmington's Hotel Ballast with her husband.

More ominously, forecasters said the onslaught on the coast would last for hours and hours because Florence had come nearly to a dead halt at just 3 mph (6 kph) as of midday.

Five deaths - a woman in Pender County, a mother and child in Wilmington and two people in Lenoir County - have been blamed on the storm.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the floodwaters. Six sheriff's officers came to his house to rescue him Friday morning, but he didn't need to leave since the water was dropping by then.

After that, Florence is forecast to move northwest and north and move across western SC on Sunday, Sept. 15, and across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, Sept. 16, the NHC said. "We're out of power, so we spent the first few hours of the day playing board games with candles".

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Storm surges of up to six feet were forecast for Belhaven, North Carolina, where this video was recorded on the night of September 13.

The Hurricane Florence has began to unleash fierce rains across the USA southeast.

But forecasters say Florence's biggest threat, as with all hurricanes, lies in its water: a storm surge of up to 11 feet and rainfall that will trigger catastrophic flooding.

The hurricane came ashore early Friday, pounding the state with torrential rain and high winds.

As it moves inland, the storm is expected to bring its high winds and intense rain bands across the southeastern corner of North Carolina and a large chunk of SC.

He added that around 20,000 people had taken refuge in 157 emergency shelters throughout the area.

Hurricane Florence is at the doorstep of North and SC, and she's not going away anytime soon.

On Thursday evening, the Neuse River burst its banks which caused rapid flooding in New Bern, North Carolina, forcing residents to flee as the entire city lost power.

Just after midnight, the station tweeted that everyone had safely evacuated.

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

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