More than 870,000 without power as Florence lumbers inland

Wilmington NC tree

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain is forcing hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Nueces and Trent rivers.

After reaching a terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph (225 kph) earlier in the week, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles (kilometers) east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line. "In addition to the flash flood and flooding threat, landslides are also possible in the higher terrain of the southern and central Appalachians across western North Carolina in southwest Virginia".

A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence has finally made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Rains have been relentless, and Florence continues to dump a "catastrophic" amount of water in its path.

Evacuations underway in North Carolina.

Rain ranging from one to three and a half feet has already fallen, and it's not over.

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

It said it was located about 65km west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and forecasters predicted a slow westward march. Its winds were down to 40 miles per hour.

Videos posted to social media show storm surges flooding into homes as they race inland. The flash flooding could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges.

On Saturday morning, Gov. Roy Cooper echoed Smith, saying that residents faced "walls of water" along the coast and rivers.

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By Friday evening, the Cape Fear River in Wilmington saw storm surge flowing north being met with rainwater flowing west, giving the water nowhere to go. "These are folks who chose to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", city public information officer Colleen Roberts said. Rivers will continue to rise days after the rain has stopped, he said.

Power outages are widespread, affecting over 740,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and 163,000 in SC.

According to a Brookings Institution article written in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which walloped southeast Texas in 2017, poor, minority families are more likely to live in low-lying neighborhoods like Hamlet that are already host to industrial facilities or environmental hazards - the same low-income neighborhoods that are far less likely to be inoculated from severe weather events. The company has not yet determined whether the weir that drains the lake was open or if contamination may have flowed into the Cape Fear River.

Officials had warned before the storm that the rains could risk tainting waterways with murky coal ash and toxic hog waste.

One potential road out was blocked as flooding forced the shutdown of a 16-mile stretch of Interstate 95, the main route along the Eastern Seaboard.

In New Bern, along the coast, homes were completely surrounded by water, and rescuers used inflatable boats to reach people.

Governor Cooper has cautioned people in affected areas against leaving safe shelters to return home to inspect damage to their homes. Along with other home cleanup and fix work ministries, Frazier said his group works to "basically restore somebody back to where they were as much as we can".

Officials in New Bern said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon. There had been no reports of injuries or fatalities, though most of the city was without power and thousands of buildings had been damaged, she said.

In a subsequent settlement with federal regulators, Duke agreed to plead guilty to nine Clean Water Act violations and pay $102 million in fines and restitution for illegally discharging pollution from coal-ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

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