Gov. McMaster cautions SC residents as Hurricane Florence moves toward state

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Later downgraded to a tropical storm, slow-moving Florence arrived over North and SC just after 7am local time on Friday, bringing torrential rain and severe floods.

Hurricane Florence remains a significant storm surge and flash flood event, according to the latest public advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

A mother and infant were killed in Wilmington, North Carolina, when a tree fell on their home. A woman in Pender County, North Carolina, died from a heart attack after calling emergency services, as paramedics could not reach her because of fallen trees.

Annazette Riley-Cromartie said she and her family thought they'd be safe in their brick house in eastern North Carolina. A 77-year-old man was apparently knocked down by the wind and died after going out to check on his hunting dogs, Lenoir County authorities said.

Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill - sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 68 trillion litres of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

The White House said on Friday President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help.

"Great job FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement - not easy, very risky, tremendous talent".

The video clip posted to Twitter appeared to mock the reporter's hurricane coverage, suggesting he was exaggerating the storm's force.

Ben Johnson, a resident of the town of Belhaven on the Pantego River, shared shocking videos to showcase the devastating effects the Florence-triggered floodings had caused in the area.

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"We're deeply concerned for whole communities which could be wiped away".

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 0.9 metres of rain, touching off severe flooding.

There have been "several hundred" rescue operations, Governor Cooper said. Officials in the town of 30,000, which dates to the early 18th century, said over 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm, after barreling into North Carolina with damaging winds and heavy rain, leaving at least five people dead.

The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

Tornadoes are also a threat, with the NHC saying that "a few tornadoes are possible in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern SC".

In Wilmington, near where the eye of the storm touched down, trees and power lines were felled and many windows were broken.

The city awoke Friday to the sound of exploding electrical transformers with strong gusts of wind throwing street signs and other debris as well as water in all directions. We have steps on the sides of the house so it's a few feet off the ground anyway. "But there are a lot of big trees around so we preferred to spend the night at a friend's to be sure".

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm.

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