Death toll rises to 11 as Florence continues battering US East Coast

This retired Marine is rescuing storm victims in his military transport vehicle

"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", Cooper said.

Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, could be in for heavy rains as Florence plods inland.

The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.

The program was used in North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Its winds were down to 45 miles per hour (75 kph).

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles.

"Life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern to central Appalachians from western North Carolina into west-central Virginia through early next week, as Florence moves slowly inland", the NHC statement read. Dozens more were pulled from a collapsed hotel.

More than 360 people had been rescued by midafternoon Friday, but another 140 were still waiting for help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said.

Hurricane Florence, now a tropical storm, is tearing through the Carolinas with heavy rainfall and 50 miles per hour wind.

Kevin Knox and his family were rescued from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sgt. Johan Mackie, part of a team using a phone app to locate people in distress. Swansboro, a town near North Carolina's coast, received 30.58 inches of rainfall as of Saturday morning, setting a record for tropical storm-associated rainfall in the state, meteorologist David Roth said.

That's just the number of customers without power in the Carolinas.

Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge moved in for an extended stay along the coast. Areas from Wilmington through Fayetteville to Charlotte will experience 500-year to 1,000-year flood events, he said.

Environmentalists have been warning for decades that Duke's coal ash ponds were vulnerable to severe storms and pose a threat to drinking water supplies and public safety.

North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of the still-unfolding disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding from Florence.

As the United States dealt with Florence, a super typhoon swirled towards Hong Kong and the Chinese coast on Sunday, gaining in strength over the South China Sea after hurtling through the Philippines, where it wreaked havoc that killed at least 25. Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard posed by the slow-moving storm is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland".

"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience". On Thursday, the president was criticized by members of his own party, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott, for claiming the Hurricane Maria death toll was a lie.

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Thousands of the 20,000 people staying in more than 150 shelters this weekend and others waiting it out elsewhere won't be able to return to their homes for good any time soon.

Prisoners were affected, too.

Florence's eye made landfall over the Wrightsville Beach water tower about 7:15 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Wilmington.

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.

Wilmington was battered by high winds and rising flood water as a pier was smashed by a huge wave.

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

As of Saturday afternoon, about 752,000 people remained without power in North Carolina, along with 119,000 in SC.

Pfaff said Eastern North Carolina residents can expect flash flooding over the course of the day Saturday.

Florence could become a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.

The Federal Emergency Management Authority said motorists should not attempt to drive through floodwaters.

The storm has killed at least five people in North Carolina.

Here is the latest on the storm from Gray TV affiliate WITN out of Greenville, N.C.

"We'll operate without power; we have candles".

"The main thing right now is to get this water pumped down" from the city, he said.

"This is our only home".

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