Hurricane Florence deluges Carolinas ahead of landfall

This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Wednesday Sept. 12 2018.
NASA via AP

This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Wednesday Sept. 12 2018. NASA via AP

The father of the child was transported to a nearby hospital with injuries. When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell - and combined with high tide, made for unsafe flooding.

In its 1 a.m. Friday update, the NHC said Florence was about 45 miles east of Wilmington, NC, packing maximum-sustained winds of 90 mph.

Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a crawl - sometimes it was moving no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain.

The storm's outer bands lashed towns on the barrier islands and on some of the Tar Heel State's rivers, as the center of the cyclone moved to make a probable Friday landfall.

But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".

"For our customers, I know they normally expect to see us immediately after the storm rolls through, but it's not safe for us to be out there working", he said. "Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience". Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill.

After spreading rain westward to the southern Appalachians and Piedmont areas, torrential rain is forecast to reach parts of the northeastern US next week.

At least 150,000 people were without power in North Carolina early Friday with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to utility companies.

Prisoners were affected, too.

People walk on a local street as water from Neuse River starts flooding houses upon Hurricane Florence coming ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018.

More than 421,000 South Carolinians already have evacuated from the coast, McMaster said. In the Philippines, evacuations were under way with Super Typhoon Mangkhut expected to hit on Saturday in an area impacting an estimated 5.2 million people.

By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakening to 70 miles per hour as it pushed inland. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

The coastal area of SC features hundreds of inlets while North Carolina has barrier islands miles away from the mainland.

A now-weakened Category 2 storm, Hurricane Florence still is expected to be "extremely dangerous" and "life threatening", the National Hurricane Center said.

Warning of looming storm surges of nine to 12 feet (2.7-3.6 meters), he urged residents to take the storm seriously no matter the category, saying "this is all about the water anyway".

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Blowing ashore with howling 90 miles per hour (155 kph) winds, Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster. But given the storm's size and sluggish track, meteorologists warned that it could cause epic damage similar to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.

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