Florence, a smelly wet unwanted visitor, besieges Carolinas

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WILMINGTON, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Firefighters look into a home that a large tree fell on that has three people trapped after Hurricane Florence hit the area on September 14, 2018 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

"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. Parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges - the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane - as high as 3 metres, he said.

In New Bern, a city that backs on to the Neuse river in North Carolina, rescue operations continued on Saturday as significant flooding destroyed homes and some of the city's historic colonial-era statues.

Tropical Storm Florence continues to dump record rain on eastern North Carolina and northeastern SC. For those wishing to track Florence's devastation from miles away, PBS NewsHour has compiled this guide of sources that we will be closely monitoring as the storm progresses. Its forward movement was 6 miles per hour (9 kph).

Nearly 800,000 people are reported to be without power already in North Carolina, and officials have warned restoring electricity could take days or even weeks.

Hurricane Florence has arrived. Carteret County officials said Saturday that two people had died there, but the cause of those deaths couldn't be determined.

As of 6 a.m., Florence was 10 miles (20 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland". Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

Hurricane Florence kills at least three people
Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas. About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians have been deployed, with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of sea water.

Screaming winds bent trees and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday. But the water kept rising.

"In Harvey, vibration from wind caused [one] to register rain", said hydrodynamics branch chief Robert Holmes. In South Carolina there were 7,000 people staying in shelters. As the storm moves into hilly terrain, it's also expected to unleash catastrophic and potentially deadly flash flooding and possibly mud slides, the hurricane center warned.

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

Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line. 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. The storm has weakened to a Category 1, with wind speeds of 90 miles per hour.

Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms. Trump issued the order on Friday.

"We'll operate without power; we have candles". "Really all you could do is stay inside and hope for the best". He said he had trimmed his own trees before the storm.

"The evacuation was countywide, but since we're not in a flood zone, we weren't really anxious about that", she told VOA.

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