Hurricane Florence Drowned a Riverfront 30 Miles from the North Carolina Coast

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At least four people, including a mother and her baby, were confirmed dead on Friday night as Hurricane Florence brought a "biblical" deluge to the U.S. east coast. The baby's father was taken to hospital. In the state's Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.

And they say people who are truly in an emergency should call 911, not just Tweet about it.

Winds bent trees towards the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and will make its "violent grind across our state for days", calling the storm an event that comes along only once every 1,000 years.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15 AM EDT (1115 UTC) with estimated maximum winds of 90 miles per hour (150 km/h), and a minimum central pressure estimate of 958 millibars.

The storm is moving toward the northwest at 17 miles per hour (28 kph), the NHC said.

A state of emergency has also been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. As of Friday morning, Atlantic Beach, a town on the state's Outer Banks barrier islands, already had received 30 inches (76 cm) of rain, the U.S. Geological Service said.

Twenty inches were reported by early Friday afternoon in the town of Oriental.

Police said 150 to 200 residents have been rescued earlier on Friday and 150 or more were still awaiting rescue.

The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.

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More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said "protection of life is the absolute highest priority".

"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", said Brad Corpening, 35, who planned to ride out the storm in his boarded-up delicatessen in Wilmington.

A tree crashed into Kevin DiLoreto's home in Wilmington, where all roads leading to his neighborhood were blocked by fallen trees.

"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.

Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation? Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes.

Utility officials have warned that widespread power outages are likely and that it could take weeks to restore electricity.

Final preparations went into place Thursday as a slowing Hurricane Florence gave the coastal Carolinas a little more time to prepare for the storm's devastating power.

The center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Wednesday night, and approach the coast of North Carolina or SC in the hurricane warning area on Thursday and Friday, NHC said. Significant weakening is expected at the weekend.

Maysie Baumgardner, 7, sheltered with her family at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as Florence's floodwaters filled the streets.

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