National Hurricane Center Updates Current Status of Tropical Storm Florence

A rescue team from the North Carolina National Guard evacuates a family as the rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence threatens their home

The flooding soon spread into SC, swamping places like North Myrtle Beach, in a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses. In nearby Onslow County, three US Coast Guard helicopters helped with rescue missions.

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.

In Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 people on North Carolina's Atlantic coastline along the Cape Fear River that is home to historic mansions and even a decommissioned World War II-era battleship, streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris.

Florence already has set a North Carolina record for rainfall totals, exceeding that of Hurricane Floyd, which struck in 1999 and caused 56 deaths.

"North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned in a briefing Saturday morning that more people in the state are in danger now than when Florence made landfall there on Friday".

Cooper said others should not follow suit.

"That's why I got this thing, to use in times like this", he said.

WILMINGTON, N.C., Sept 15 (Reuters) - Tropical storm Florence lumbered inland on Saturday, knocking down trees, flooding rivers, and dumping sheets of rain in the Carolinas where five people have died.

As the death toll from Florence mounted and hundreds of people were pulled from flooded homes, North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of a still-unfolding disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding.

It has already claimed five victims, with a mother and her baby crushed by a tree in North Carolina.

Two people in Lenoir County were killed: a 78-year-old Kinston man who was electrocuted when connecting extension cords in the rain and a 77-year-old man who was blown down by the wind when he went to check on his hunting dogs. The man's family found his body Friday morning, according to Dail.

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South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster is giving another update on the state's response to Tropical Storm Florence. As the storm sat along the edge of the Atlantic, some stretches along the coastal Carolinas received close to 20 inches of rain.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the US electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm.

On Saturday evening, Duke Energy said heavy rains caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station outside Wilmington, North Carolina.

Picture the entire state of Texas covered with roughly 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water: that's Florence's rainfall forecast over a week. The National Weather Service measured storm surge in New Bern at 10 feet (3 meters) deep. "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".

In the city of New Bern near the North Carolina coast, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000, which is at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers. "Nobody expected this", a rescued resident, Tom Ballance, toldThe Weather Channel.

According to Gov. Cooper, rescue operations are underway across the state.

As of 5 a.m., Florence was 25 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

23 aviation rescues, and counting.

"It's not often that we have to prepare for a hurricane in the mountains, but we are doing so on our campus", Jason Marshburn, the director of safety and emergency management at Appalachian State University in Boone, wrote in a letter to students and faculty members.

Electricity remained out for much of the city, with power lines lying across many roads like wet strands of spaghetti.

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