Florence's Death Toll Stands at 15 as It Weakens to a Depression

Myrtle Beach South Carolina is in the path of Hurricane Florence

Myrtle Beach South Carolina is in the path of Hurricane Florence

Authorities on Saturday warned residents displaced by a killer hurricane against returning home, as storm Florence dumped "epic amounts of rainfall" across the eastern United States, resulting in life-threatening flooding.

The Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles Saturday to rescue hundreds of people trapped by Florence's shoreline onslaught, even as North Carolina braced for what could be the next stage of the disaster: widespread, catastrophic flooding inland.

"The storm has never been more unsafe than it is now", North Carolina's emergency management office said on Twitter, quoting Governor Roy Cooper.

"We're going to see rain but how much is the question", meteorologist Trent Davis said Sunday morning. 'And numerous rivers will see prolonged flooding, some not cresting for a few days'.

By Sunday afternoon, Florence's winds had dropped to about 55 km/h, the National Hurricane Center said, with some weakening forecast over the next 24 hours before intensifying once again as an extratropical low-pressure centre.

Forecasters said the storm will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a sharp rightward swing to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of the week.

Authorities ordered the evacuation of up to 7,500 people within a mile of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Little River, about 100 miles from the coast. More than 26,000 hunkered down in shelters. Dams and bridges were in peril as rivers and creeks swelled.

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More than 641,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in North and SC and surrounding states, down from a peak of almost 1 million.

Mr Trump, who plans to visit the region this week, tweeted his "deepest sympathies and warmth" to the families and friends of those who died.

A pickup truck drives on a flooded road past a farm house that is surrounded by flooded fields from tropical storm Florence in Hyde County, NC., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.

"I expect there to be an uptick in investor activity in the Carolinas, but I do not expect it to be quite as large or as immediate as we saw in the Houston area because of the differences between vacation communities and year-round communities", she told The Real Deal in an email.

In Leland, a low-lying city north of Wilmington, homes and local businesses were engulfed by water on Sunday.

The comments came days after Trump made unsupported claims that the official death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria was deliberately boosted by Democrats to make him look "as bad as possible" even as he was raising "billions of dollars" to rebuild the island territory. The site lost enough material to fill around two-thirds of an Olympic-sized pool, the company said in a statement, adding that it did not believe the incident posed a risk to health or the environment. At 5am, the storm was centered about 20 miles south-west of Columbia, South Carolina. The ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including lead and arsenic. Parts of southeastern North Carolina could see up to 40 inches before the rain ends later in the week.

SC authorities said law enforcement officers were guarding against looting in evacuated areas, while Wilmington set a curfew on Saturday evening in response to looting in one area.

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