Hurricane Florence pounds Carolinas

Hurricane Florence approaches landfall in North Carolina; more than 80,000 without power

The hurricane's top sustained winds have dropped to 85 miles per hour, while it moves slowly toward SC at 6 miles per hour.

The storm brought life-threatening storm surge and hurricane strength winds.

A mother and infant were killed in Wilmington when a tree fell on their house as Hurricane Florence crashed into North Carolina on Friday, swamping streets with torrential rain and a powerful storm surge.

At least four people have died, and authorities fear the toll will go higher.

Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 700,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't near an end.

"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, team work and common sense and patience", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday.

"This storm is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days", he said.

"I have no generator", said Petra Langston, a nurse. Expert scientists, however, had said they were anxious about Brunswick because of scant public information about its readiness.

"It's hard to believe it's going to get that high", says Elizabeth Machado, who came to the bridge to check on the river.

A gust of 105 miles per hour (169 kph) was recorded at the Wilmington airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago. It started pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a watery siege that could go on all weekend.

In a display of the early effects of the storm, one flood gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, showed 10 feet (three meters) of flooding, the NHC said. "Plenty of heavy rain remains in the future for this region", Roth wrote in the weather center's rain forecast discussion.

At 11 a.m., Florence was centered about 20 miles southwest of Wilmington, N.C., and about 55 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, S.C. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 mph, lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.

The storm's center is crawling over SC, but many of its main rain bands still are over already-saturated North Carolina - setting up what may be days of flooding for some communities. Forecasters warned of "catastrophic" freshwater flooding along the Carolinas.

Anxiety also reigned Saturday in Lumberton, a North Carolina city that was submerged for days after 2016's Hurricane Matthew. Hundreds more were rescued elsewhere from rising water. Traffic lights out of order because of power failures swayed in the gusty wind. Nationwide, airlines cancelled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday.

The city of New Bern, North Carolina has promised that help is on its way to 150 people trapped by Hurricane Florence's inundation of the small town.

The City of New Bern tweeted around 2:30 a.m. on Friday that they had two out-of-state FEMA teams helping out with swift water rescues.

"We're on our way, we will get you rescued", Outlaw said while cautioning that first responders have to be careful of their own safety.

Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out.

Ashley Warren and boyfriend Chris Smith managed to paddle away from their home in a boat with their two dogs, and the experience left her shaken. The storm is still pounding towns as it lumbers across the Carolinas, but it's now a tropical storm. Florida emergency officials said Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, they had no way of tracking how many residents from the Carolinas had escaped to Florida this week.

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