Hurricane Florence begins to batter the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence's onslaught threatens disaster in North Carolina

Hurricane Florence's onslaught threatens disaster in North Carolina

As of 1 p.m. ET, the storm's sustained winds dropped to 75 miles per hour as it wobbled west-southwestward near the coast, delaying its expected move inland, the National Hurricane Center said.

"WPD can confirm the first two fatalities of Hurricane #Florence in Wilmington".

Among the dead was a mother and her infant child, who were killed after a tree fell on their house. The childs father was taken to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center with unspecified injuries.

The hospital said it has received three injured patients.

North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centres in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities. Also, one person was killed while plugging in a generator, and a man was knocked to the ground while outside and died, authorities said. Roberts said numerous residents live near the Neuse and Trent rivers.

Flood waters surround a house as Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., on Friday.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of sea water.

- The number of North Carolina residents without power is now more than 480,000, according to North Carolina Emergency Management.

Near the beach in Wilmington, a Waffle House restaurant, part of a chain with a reputation for staying open during disasters, had no plans to close, even if power was lost, and there were lines to get in on Thursday evening. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

The Category 1 hurricane's center is expected to crash onshore sometime Friday, then linger for another whole day, unloading flash flooding, pounding wind and towering storm surges at least through Saturday.

Roberts said rescuers were facing very challenging conditions, but assured residents help was on the way. Forecasters said the onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas. At the city's airport, the wind was gusting at 91 miles per hour. "Plant procedures call for the reactors to be shut down before the anticipated onset of hurricane-force winds", agency spokesman Joey Ledford told CNN.

Officials say anyone who has not heeded mandatory evacuation orders is on his own.

Dan Eudy said he and his brother were awakened on Thursday night by the sound of a boat ramming against his front porch. "We might leave", she said.

In New Bern, on the Neuse River, a CNN team had to keep shifting position in a park as the water kept rising until it was too risky to stay in the area. Florence dumped more than 20 inches on Oriental, N.C., the NHC said.

"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said.

Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes.

"Currently - 150 awaiting rescue in New Bern", City Hall said on Twitter.

Coastal and river communities on the north side of Florence are getting the worst of the flooding as the hurricane swirls onto land pushing a life-threatening storm surge.

In Morehead City, Brooke Kittrell rode out the storm Thursday and Friday with her boyfriend aboard their docked boat, hoping it didn't break loose and slam something. "I was born and raised here and been through every storm the last 30 years, but this one seems to be doing more damage than we expected".

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, city officials posted photos of toppled gas pumps and a downed trees early Friday, warning residents to take shelter and avoid roadways.

Remainder of SC and North Carolina into southwest Virginia...5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches.

WLOS News 13 WNCFirefighters work to combat the fallout from Hurricane Florence.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm will eventually push westward and make a right hook to the northeast over the southern Appalachians, moving into the mid-Atlantic region and New England as a tropical depression by the middle of next week.

In its 1200 GMT advisory, the center said Florence was packing winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph) and moving northwest at 6 miles per hour (10 kilometers per hour).

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