Florence punishes Carolinas with torrential rain, flooding; six dead

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They have first confirmed fatalities related to the storm, according to the Wilmington Police Department.

The deaths include two people killed in Lenoir County, and a mother and infant killed in Wilmington, N.C., when a tree fell on a home, according to authorities.

The hospital said it has received three injured patients. In the state's Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.

Kim Adams makes her way to her home that is surrounded by flood waters after Florence passed through the area on September 15, 2018 in Southport, North Carolina.

Colleen Roberts, public information officer for the city of about 30,000 residents, told Fox News that 200 people had been rescued so far as the Category 1 storm battered the area with strong winds and a life-threatening surge.

Florence, which arrived on land as a category one hurricane, will be the first test of the Trump administration's response to a major natural disaster since Hurricane Maria pounded the USA territory of Puerto Rico in 2017.

Those who didn't flee the deadly storm were seeking shelter in attics or the upper floors of homes after the hurricane marched ashore earlier in North Carolina.

In New Bern, at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers in North Carolina, Florence overwhelmed the town of 30,000.

By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakened to 112 km/h as it moved forward at 6km/h about 25 kilometres north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

A day after Florence blew ashore in North Carolina with 90 miles per hour (145 kph) winds, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and other rescue crews used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles to reach scores of people trapped on rooftops or otherwise caught in the floodwaters.

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The ocean is moving inland ahead of Florence as storm surge begins to flood the Carolinas coast, according to the NHC. Florence is now churning through the Atlantic, only a few hundred miles off the coast of Wilmington, N.C.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC, as well as up to 10 inches (25 cm) in southwestern Virginia.

The rest of SC into western North Carolina and southwest Virginia is expected to report 5 to 10 inches of additional rainfall, with isolated cases of 15 inches.

A day after Florence blew ashore in North Carolina with 90 miles per hour winds, more than 2ft of rain had fallen in places, with forecasters saying there could be an additional one-and-a-half feet by the end of the weekend.

Any returning evacuees have been warned that flooding may last in the eastern Carolinas into next week, inclusive of flooding across roadways and into homes.

The storm has already killed five people and battered homes along the Carolina coast. New Bern assured its residents that additional resources were on their way, including from out of state. One team from Maryland helped with about 40 rescues in New Bern starting Thursday, member Mitchell Rusland said. More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury.

Sidney Este, whose 71-year-old mother was still inside his house, said: "I'm mostly concerned about the house getting hotter and hotter". But there were times she thought they wouldn't survive, she told CNN.

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.

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".

"Honestly, I grew up in Wilmington".

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