Hurricane Florence plows inland, leaving five dead, states flooded

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"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm", Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press release.

The centre of the slow-moving storm, downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane after it came ashore Friday afternoon, was almost stalled over SC early Saturday, about 55 kilometres west of Myrtle Beach, moving west-southwest at just 8 km/h and scooping massive amounts of moisture from the sea.

Two people died in Wilmington after a tree fell on their house, the city's police department said.

Florence diminished from hurricane strength as it came ashore on Friday, but the large storm's slow progress across the two states could leave much of the region under water in the coming days, according to forecasters.

The casualties include a mother and baby who were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The father was also in the house and had to be taken to a local hospital for treatment after the incident.

The 63-year-old former firefighter says he was able to sleep through the torrential rain and thrashing winds when then-Hurricane Florence made landfall early Friday morning, only waking up to texts he received at 7 a.m. from friends checking up on him. When they got to the home, the woman was deceased, Chad McEwen, assistant county manager for Pender County, said.

Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the Carolina coast for days.

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The White House said President Donald Trump would visit hurricane-hit areas next week "once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts".

Mayor Bill Saffo said earlier Saturday that crews need "at least 48 hours" more to clear debris before residents who left the region should consider returning.

One of the towns worst affected is New Bern, which sits between the Neuse and Trent rivers in North Carolina.

With tropical storm-force winds swirling 350 miles wide, Florence continued deluging the Carolinas on Saturday morning after pushing surging seas far ashore. A town spokesman said between 60 and 75 people were awaiting rescue on Saturday.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence broke a North Carolina rainfall record that had stood for nearly 20 years: Preliminary reports showed Swansboro got over 30 inches and counting, eclipsing the mark set in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd dropped just over 24 inches on the state.

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

Rain is forecast to continue through the weekend, bringing risky flooding conditions to many areas of North Carolina. That, in turn, could trigger epic flooding well inland.

SC recorded its first death from the storm, with officials saying a 61-year-old woman was killed when her auto hit a tree that had fallen across a highway.

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The state's emergency management division has posted additional information on the evacuations and how to prepare. It is too early to know the exact path the storm will take but it could hit land on Thursday, the centre added.

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.

New Bern residents were putting out calls for help on social media, claiming they couldn't get through to 911.

By 5 a.m., about 200 people had been rescued from flooded homes in New Bern, where the National Weather Service reported 10 feet of inundation.

"New Bern is just not used to this level of a hurricane", Outlaw said.

One resident, 67-year-old Linda Smith, told the MailOnline: "We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now". "So, even if it was just a tropical storm and trees went down we'd have a hard time getting here".

Hundreds of residents were rescued on Friday, and the city was placed under a 24-hour curfew until further notice.

"I honestly cried", Kittrell said.

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