Hurricane Florence turns deadly, unleashing torrential floods on Carolinas

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Firefighters pray at an operation to remove a tree that fell on a house injuring resident during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018. The father was hospitalized with injuries.

In Pender County, officials said that a woman died of a heart attack Friday morning as emergency crews tried to reach her; they were delayed because of downed trees and debris in the road. TV station WNCN said the 78-year-old victim and was "trying to connect two extension cords outside in the rain".

It was set to inundate nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, State Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, while National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted up to eight months of rain in two or three days.

The NHC said Florence went ashore near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, at 7:15 a.m. EDT with estimated maximum winds of 90 miles per hour.

Hurricane Florence on Friday claimed its first fatalities, including a mother and her baby, as the monster storm walloped the US East Coast and parked over the Carolinas, threatening days of torrential rain and severe flooding.

Having punished the Carolinas with winds, heavy rains and record flooding, Hurricane Florence was downgraded Friday afternoon to a tropical storm, still packing a punch with 70 miles per hour winds.

Florence's eyewall reached shore near Wilmington, N.C., just before 6 a.m. ET Friday; more than an hour later, the National Hurricane Center announced, it had "finally" made landfall near Wrightsville Beach.

At 11:00 am (1500 GMT), the storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour (130 kilometres per hour) and moving west-southwest at three mph (six kph). They ventured out in life jackets into waste-deep water to tie the boat and another floating by to a tree. Gigi Charlebois, owner of the Edenton Coffee House on the northern shore of North Carolina's Albemarle Sound, made a decision to stay with her family overnight in the shop's dining room, sleeping on couches, pull-out cots and a mattress. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the New Bern authorities said on Twitter. Coastal water has risen 5-feet above sea level near Wilmington and 8-feet above sea level near New Bern according to recorders in tide buoys, which you can track here.

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After that, Florence is forecast to move northwest and north and move across western SC on Sunday, Sept. 15, and across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, Sept. 16, the NHC said.

"There's already water (in the) bottom part of people's houses", Todd Willis, who lives in Kennel Beach, North Carolina, said Thursday night.

The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.

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.

North Carolina emergency management officials said more than 600,000 customers in North Carolina were without power. Millions of people are expected to lose power and it could take weeks to resolve the outages. The company said as many as three-fourths of its 4 million customers in North Carolina and SC could lose power. Gradual weakening is expected throughout the day Friday, with significant weakening predicted over the weekend.

"More people die from storm surge than any proponent of hurricanes", Kottlowsk tells TIME.

Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic.

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