Florence lumbers inland, leaving five dead, communities flooded

People walk past a tree uprooted by strong winds lies across a street in Wilmington N.C. after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday Sept. 14 2018

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest Florence update at 10am BST that a storm surge warning remained in effect for Myrtle Beach in SC to the Ocracoke Inlet in North Carolina, and for Pamlico Sound.

Cooper called Florence the "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities.

"The same places have seen all of this water, and the same places will see more water", CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Saturday morning.

Some towns have received more than 2 feet (60 centimeters) of rain from Florence, and forecasters warned that drenching rains with as much as 3½ feet (1 meter) of water could trigger epic flooding well inland through early next week.

A piece of corrugated metal blown by winds from Hurricane Florence just misses a state patrolman as people move a wood and metal structure that was blown onto the roadway, in Florence, South Carolina, on September 14, 2018.

The storm will dump rain in the Carolinas through the weekend, overwhelming rivers and setting up days of flooding, before reaching the Ohio Valley.

The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.

More than 12,000 were in shelters in North Carolina. "You're going to have flooding miles and miles inland", the center's director, Ken Graham, said. Some other parts of SC could see rainfall totals of up to 15 inches, forecasters said.

The mother and her baby were killed in New Hanover County when a tree fell on their house, the governor said, while confirming another death in Lenoir County.

Wilmington police tweeted that the father was transported to the hospital with unspecified injuries. The streets were mostly deserted and some were blocked by fallen trees. Crews from the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were working with citizen volunteers to get people to dry ground, Roberts said.

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Tropical storm Florence lumbered inland on Saturday, knocking down trees, flooding rivers, and dumping torrents of rain in the Carolinas, where five people have died. One was electrocuted while hooking up a generator and the other while checking on his dogs outside, emergency officials said.

The rising sea crept towards the two-storey home of Tom Copeland, who lives on a spit of land surrounded by water in Swansboro. "It came in slowly but then it just steady, just kept rising", Annazette Riley-Cromartie said. His mom remembers Hurricane Hazel, when the water did not rise as high as his fifth step, where it was Thursday night.

She, her husband and three children went up into the attic for a while, but the winds howled and the family descended to an upper floor bedroom.

As they waited for emergency workers, they heard neighbors screaming for help.

"I'm anxious about what I might find when I go home, though", she said.

"It's the worst feeling in the world to hear people yelling for help and you can't do anything", she said.

He said "24 to 36 hours remain for significant threats" from heavy rain, storm surges and flooding. She was eventually rescued by a boat crew; 140 more awaited assistance. With Florence, it'll be the same amount of rainfall in three days.

National Hurricane Center: Florence about to make landfall in N. Carolina causing life-threatening storm surge.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm will travel through upstate SC, be downgraded to a tropical depression, then turn north toward the Ohio Valley.

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