18 dead as Florence causes heavy flooding in Carolinas

Person dies while plugging in generator NC officials say

Though it was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane at landfall Friday and later weakened to a tropical storm, Florence remains a massive storm that will dump trillions of gallons of rain on eastern North Carolina before sweeping across SC. At least four people were killed.

The center said the storm would dump as much as 40 inches (102 cm) of rain along coastal areas of the Carolinas, as well as up to 10 inches in southwestern Virginia.

A city spokeswoman for New Bern, NC, said more than 200 people were rescued from floodwaters Thursday night, and confirmed that 150 more were waiting to be rescued by Friday morning.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with storm-struck states and is ready to respond to any breaches, a spokeswoman, Maggie Sauerhage, said.

A storm surge of about 10 ft above normal levels was reported by the National Weather Service's office in Morehead City, North Carolina.

WILMINGTON, United States (2nd UPDATE) - Tropical storm Florence caused "catastrophic" flooding in the Carolinas Saturday, September 15 even as it began to weaken, after resulting in multiple deaths, including a woman and her baby killed when a tree fell on their house.

Shaken after seeing waves crashing in the Neuse River just outside his house in the town of New Bern, hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.

At 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 50 miles (75 kilometers) west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles (45 kilometers) northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At that time, Florence was a Category 1 storm but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

This satellite image shows Hurricane Florence as it made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C. "In addition to the ongoing, unsafe storm surge and flash flooding, will be a long-term river flood threat WELL INLAND as very heavy rainfall continues to fall in the coming days".

As a response to the extreme conditions, about 9,700 National Guard troops have been deployed to carry out rescue operations. Authorities are also warning of mudslides and further power outages.

"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", Cooper said. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated.

About 1,600 animals at the North Carolina Zoo are hunkered down, with zoo workers moving swiftly to get elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees and hundreds of other species indoors to safety. It tore roofs and facades off buildings and toppled trees.

Firefighters in Wilmington gathered outside the house to pray for the family. Traffic lights out of order because of power failures swayed in the gusty wind.

The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.

More than 2 feet (60 centimeters) of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 1½ feet (45 centimeters) before Sunday is out.

Hundreds of people in North Carolina have been rescued from rising water. "Don't go back until you get the all-clear". "We are stuck in the attic".

Picture the entire state of Texas covered with roughly 4 inches of water: that's Florence's rainfall forecast over a week. "We are doing as well as we can", Coudriet said.

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