Now a tropical storm, Florence spreads watery mayhem across Carolina

Screen Shot 2018 09 15

Screen Shot 2018 09 15

The storm has already dumped up to 15 inches more on the Carolinas this morning. SC recorded its first death from the storm, with officials saying a 61-year-old woman was killed when her auto hit a tree that had fallen across a highway.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned that life-threatening storm surges - in which water is pushed by a storm over land that would normally be dry - and catastrophic freshwater flooding were still expected. "This rainfall will continue to produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the advisory said.

Onslow County spokesman Cornelius Jordan said some visitors at the Triangle Motor Inn were able to drive away on their own, but emergency personnel had to take others to a safe location.

Resident Jay Manning said he and his wife watched with alarm as water filled the street.

Immigration officers have been dispatched to help with response and recovery as Florence lashes North and SC with life-threatening winds, rain and floods.

Officials in SC are reporting the state's first fatality due to Florence, bringing the storm's overall death toll to at least five. Authorities expect the death toll to rise in the coming days.

This includes a mother and baby and two elderly men, among others. Though Florence did not arrive with winds as violent as once feared, forecasters got the storm surge and rainfall correct. A husband and wife died in a house fire linked to the storm, officials said, and an 81-year-old man died after falling and hitting his head while packing to evacuate.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence broke a North Carolina rainfall record that had stood for nearly 20 years: Preliminary reports showed Swansboro got over 30 inches and counting, eclipsing the mark set in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd dropped just over 24 inches on the state.

In Kinston, a city southeast of Raleigh, two people died in the storm.

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More than 1 million people, mainly in North Carolina, were without power a day after Florence made landfall a few miles east of Wilmington as a howling Category 1 hurricane. "We face walls of water".

And while North Carolina is susceptible to all of these usual threats that breed in waters left behind by a major storm, the state is also vulnerable to an additional unique - and unpleasant - set of problems.

"Know that water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood".

People wait to be rescued by members of the U.S. Army during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimetres) of water, he calculated.

"Once the last drops of rain [have] occurred doesn't mean problems are over", he said. As the storm sat along the edge of the Atlantic, some stretches along the coastal Carolinas received close to 20 inches of rain. More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds collapsed part of the roof.

Over 100 people remain trapped in New Bern, a town on the Neuse River which has been hit hard by rain and flooding.

The riverfront city of 30,000 people has been deluged by 304cm of water, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported.

North Carolina Emergency Management advised residents Friday morning that "If your power goes out, do NOT operate gas powered generators or charcoal grills in or near your home".

23 aviation rescues, and counting.

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