Hurricane Florence lashes United States east coast, triggers flood warnings

Waves slam the Oceana Pier & Pier House Restaurant in Atlantic Beach N.C. on Thursday

Most of the damage during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 in North Carolina came from inland flooding - 31 people died and almost 100,000 homes were destroyed.

According to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, thirty-thousand people lost power across the state as of 5 PM and that number continues to rise. There is the potential for waterspouts and tornadoes in advance of, during and after Florence makes landfall. In New Bern, on the Neuse River, a CNN team had to keep shifting position in a park as the water kept rising until it was too risky to stay in the area. Montgomery said calling the number a couple of times will not make a difference.

The National Hurricane Center said early Friday that Florence was about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surge and hurricane strength winds.

The National Weather Service said as much as 18cm of rain had fallen overnight in some coastal areas.

Mr Schleifstein also advised people to "keep an axe" in their attic, in case people break in after the storm. He said five deaths were confirmed from the storm and "several others are under investigation".

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

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.

He wrote: "Live along areas of the North/South Carolina coast, ordered to evacuate and not going to do it?"

Note: This may not be the most recent forecast, please visit www.myfox8.com or open the FOX8 app for the very latest on Hurricane Florence. People in the Carolinas had the daytime hours Thursday to complete their final preparations to ride out or escape the storm. They died when a large tree came down over the back of their home, crushing and killing them while leaving the child's father hospitalized Friday morning. Paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.

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In Wilmington, North Carolina, a steady rain began to fall as gusts of winds intensified, causing trees to sway and stoplights to flicker. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown are was under water by Friday afternoon.

"It's really unsafe out right now", Beaufort, NC, Mayor Everette Newton told CNN.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

"I have no generator", said Petra Langston, a nurse.

For Western North Carolina, the storm is not going to be felt until Saturday. The figure for SC was 170,000 customers.

Overcrowded animal shelters in some North Carolina districts were facing a more grim prospect: euthanizing animals that can't be shipped to safety.

President Donald Trump is expected to travel to areas hit by Florence next week, once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts, the White House said on Friday.

Despite pleas from state and local officials, some residents rejected calls to evacuate.

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