Hurricane Florence brings flooding; mother, baby die after tree falls on home

Heavy surf crashes the dunes at high tide in Nags Head N.C. on Sept. 13 as Hurricane Florence approaches the coast

More than 10 feet of storm surge is expected to hit some areas in North Carolina and SC, triggered by Florence.

The outer bands of Hurricane Florence have begun to impact the coast of North Carolina.

Duke Energy said it would close a pair of nuclear power reactors at its Brunswick plant on the Cape Fear River, about four miles from Southport, N.C. The company said its procedures required closing the plants when facing sustained 75 mph winds, even though the plants were created to withstand winds of more than 200 mph and a storm surge of 22 feet.

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm.

Since issuing a mandatory evacuation order Wednesday, nearly all of the more than 2500 residents left the island.

As winds and rain picked up during the day and conditions quickly deteriorated, thousands of people moved into emergency shelters to ride out what officials have called "the storm of a lifetime".

"It's not like we're not taking it seriously", Mrs. Mramer told The Washington Times.

He said there are about 7,000 U.S. military forces now ready to respond to the storm - along with ships, helicopters and high-wheeled vehicles.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Centre said the storm would weaken after making landfall but also linger, dumping heavy rains for days.

"We've seen fatalities and deaths from tropical storms, from Category 1 storms and from Category 2 storms", SCEMD's Becker said.

As of the 7:45 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, the storm's center made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. "We just bought a new house so I'm kinda nervous".

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Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2.

But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent". Its surge of ocean water could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 13 feet, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding. According to Fire Chief Glen Rogers, there are in fact only 12 people left on the beach to sit out the storm.

Associated Press story by Johanthan Drew.

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico previous year.

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

In some counties, almost 1 in 3 people live below the poverty line.

The high winds will likely snap or uproot numerous trees. "It's very hard to say at this point".

Petrol stations in the area are reporting shortages and energy companies predict that one to three million homes and businesses may lose power.

At 15:00 GMT (11:00 am), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 230 km (145 miles) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving northwest at 17 kph (10 mph), the NHC said.

With gusts upward of 110 miles per hour already battering the Carolina coastline, storm surges have already started to destroy homes and overflow onto roads.

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