Five dead as Hurricane Florence downgraded to tropical storm

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"Very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and feared splintering trees would pummel her house.

NEW BERN, N.C. -Florence continued to drench the Carolinas Saturday as it lumbered across the region, claiming at least five lives and stranding hundreds of people in floodwaters.

Horry County officials told The Sun News that emergency personnel are still responding to calls and never stopped.

Florence is forecast to "drop nearly double" the volume of rain over the state compared to Floyd, tweeted Ryan Maue, meteorologist for weathermodels.com. But the water kept rising. But these winds combined with a giant storm surge and deluge of rain are brewing havoc along the coast.

Atlantic Beach's historic pier was washed away.

The reports came just hours after Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am local time (11:30 GMT) at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, as the centre of its eye moved onshore, the National Hurricane Center said.

CORRECTING TYPO IN CITY NAME Leaves, branches and other debris surround and cover a auto during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018.

"We've got a massive amount of cleanup to do", Saffo said. Many locations in southeast North Carolina are likely smash this old record by the time the rain ends. "It's been occurring all night".

Evacuation orders have been lifted in several coastal SC counties as Florence continues to dump rain on the state. More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury.

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Tropical Storm Florence is continuing to dump risky amounts of rain as it continues its slow slog across the Carolinas. The U.S. Geological Survey maintains the gauges, which during storm can get battered and cause faulty readings.

"It was pitch black and I was just scared out of my mind", said Tracy Singleton, who with her family later drove through torrential rain and high winds from her home near New Bern to a hotel some almost 80 miles (130 km) away. "Really all you could do is stay inside and hope for the best". Numerous evacuees took their pets. Duke Energy expects between 1 million to 3 million homes and businesses to lose power.

Meanwhile, many were experiencing a complete blackout as the storm damaged infrastructure, utility poles and transmission lines. Before daybreak, resident Mitchell Foor arrived with a generator, cranking up the hotels ice and coffee machines. Eventually, a volunteer rescue team from IN arrived with a boat and rescued them.

She estimated 441,000 people have already evacuated because of the storm.

"Remember most storm deaths occur from drowning in fresh water, often in cars". He urged residents to stay inside and not get in the way of emergency workers.

Florence "will continue to track slowly inland through the Carolinas this weekend", the National Weather Service said in its 8:00 a.m. update Saturday.

Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.

As the storm moves into hilly terrain, it's also expected to unleash catastrophic and potentially deadly flash flooding and possibly mud slides, the hurricane center warned.

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