National Hurricane Center Updates Current Status of Tropical Storm Florence

WATCH: Weather Channel Reporter Caught Allegedly Dramatizing Hurricane Winds, Gets Slammed Online

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 7:15am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.

The North Carolina Baptist Men's organization planned to begin soon moving kitchen equipment inland, where they expect to prepare 85,000 meals a day when all its feeding operations are up and running.

The viral video, which has more than 13.6 million views, showed Weather Channel correspondent Mike Seidel in Wilmington, North Carolina, trying to fight the heavy wind as he reported live from the storm on Friday. Rains have been relentless, and Florence continues to dump a "catastrophic" amount of water in its path.

A downed tree and water from the Neuse river are seen on a flooded street during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018.

Rain ranging from one to three and a half feet has already fallen, and it's not over.

"I can not overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren't watching for them, you are risking your life", Governor Roy Cooper said. But its progress had slowed to a crawl of 5 miles per hour.

Wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area. But with half of the storm still out over the Atlantic, Florence continued to collect warm ocean water and dump it on land. But the storm was shaping up as a two-part disaster, with the second, delayed stage triggered by rainwater working its way into rivers and streams. The flash flooding could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges. It had crested parts of the downtown river walk by the evening hours.

Authorities fear the death toll will go higher as the tropical storm crawls westwards across SC.

Federal officials are urging anyone who ignored orders to evacuate from Hurricane Florence to hunker down and stay put until the storm passes. Rain-soaked furniture workers helped him quickly empty more than 1,000 mattresses from a warehouse in a low-lying strip mall. They then carry the two canines into their boat.

Hurricane Florence likely to affect southeast USA energy infrastructure
More than 10 million people live in areas under warnings or watches for hurricane- or tropical storm- force winds, CNN reports . It was downgraded to Category 1 before coming ashore on Friday near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina .

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North Carolina utilities estimated that as many as 2.5 million state residents could be left without power, the state's Department of Public Safety said. Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash were displaced at the Sutton Plant and that contaminated storm water likely flowed into the plant's cooling pond. Sutton was retired in 2013 and the company has been excavating ash to remove to safer lined landfills.

One potential road out was blocked as flooding forced the shutdown of a 16-mile (26-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 95, the main highway along the Eastern Seaboard.

The US Marines, Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles to rescue hundreds of people trapped by Florence's shoreline onslaught.

Trump's tweets - which drew an offer from Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello to explain the methodology and a request for "respect" for the death - came as first responders were rescuing people from homes in flooded-out towns in the Carolinas.

"If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible", Mayor Mitch Colvin said.

The 18th century town, with a population of 30,000, has been badly flooded, with 4,200 homes damaged.

The doors of many homes suffered so much wind damage they appeared to have been kicked in, while the city's beloved fiber-glass bear statues, which are sponsored by local businesses, were floating down streets.

Hurricanes usually drive people away from Florida, but Florence is making the Sunshine State into a refuge for people from the Carolinas.

Northern South Carolina and southwestern Virginia: 5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches.

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