Hurricane Florence swamps Carolinas, threatening record rainfall, punishing winds

As rescuers battled strong winds and debris-filled floodwaters to pluck hundreds of stranded people from their homes, officials confirmed at least three deaths from the monster storm, while USA media reported a fourth.

New Bern, the city on the North Carolina coast where the Neuse River and Trent River intersect, was reeling Friday after being inundated from flooding caused by Hurricane Florence. The father was taken to hospital with unspecified injuries. Officials in South Carolina's Craven County say conditions are much worse than some residents expected, with almost 500 people calling the local emergency services hotline asking for help. One of the casualties, a 77-year-old man, died after reportedly being blown away by the howling winds.

Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days". Trump planned a visit to the region next week.

"Flash flooding will be extreme and flood waters will come up quickly and seemingly out of nowhere", the governor said.

By that time, emergency crews had already been deployed to parts of the state where people were trapped by floodwaters.

Both rivers overflowed their banks, flooding homes, stores and streets and trapping many people in their houses.

"Just because the wind speed came down, the intensity of this storm came down. please do not let your guard down", said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), earlier on Thursday.

NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook the storm surges could push as far as 2 miles (3 km) inland.

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More than 80,000 without power in North Carolina as Florence moves closer
Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. Wild horses in the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort, North Carolina will fend for themselves during Hurricane Florence .

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Hurricane Florence roared ashore Friday morning, bringing punishing winds and rains. "This will cause extremely risky flooding", the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned.

At 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 50 miles (75 kilometers) west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles (45 kilometers) northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

It is expected to move across parts of south-eastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

At least 150 people were waiting to be rescued in New Bern, N.C., officials tweeted Thursday evening. "And you don't need power to sling booze", said owner Eli Ellsworth.

The bulk of the three media briefings held by police chief Dan House surrounded how they were still anticipating the serious and catastrophic storm surge as well as hurricane force winds.

On top of the potentially destructive hurricane, forecasters also put parts of North Carolina on tornado watch.

In Wilmington, the storm tore down numerous trees when its centre tore through the area Friday morning.

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