People along North Carolina coast share Snapchats of Hurricane Florence

WHAT'S HAPPENING: Florence will pose fatal threat for days

The Category 1 storm's winds have weakened in intensity as it neared the coast, but forecasters say the real hazard from the storm will most likely be the rains and flooding as the storm moves southwest into SC before turning north. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they're seeing the floodwaters rise".

The dramatic animation has been viewed more than 3.2m times on Twitter since it was posted on September 13.

Just after midnight, the station tweeted that everyone had safely evacuated.

Union Point Park is flooded with rising water from the Neuse and Trent Rivers in New Bern, N.C., September 13, 2018.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that 34 million people in the US could get at least 3 inches of rain from Florence, with more than 5.7 million people probably receiving at least a foot. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River left 500 people in peril. The city tweeted early Friday that 150 people were awaiting rescue.

Federal officials are urging anyone who ignored orders to evacuate from Hurricane Florence to hunker down and stay put until the storm passes. Ballance called the rainfall "biblical", saying he's gotten reports from friends that his downtown seafood restaurant was flooded, just like the rest of the small city's historic downtown, and he's anxious about the hundreds of people who needed to be rescued overnight in the city.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

"The sheer size of the tree was not something you could quickly cut with a chain saw", Mason said.

Wilmington should be ready for a prolonged and devastating impact as Hurricane Florence roars over Southeastern North Carolina on Friday.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 21 miles per hour on Friday morning in Columbia. At Cape Lookout there were sustained winds of 83 miles per hour and gusts of 106.

Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge whipped the Carolina coast to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said.

The Category 1 storm officially made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, shortly before 7:45 a.m. We knew it was coming, and we're working very hard to keep our citizens safe.

WHAT'S HAPPENING: Florence will pose fatal threat for days
Hurricane Florence damages, evacuates Jacksonville NC hotel

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water.

- The number of North Carolina residents without power is now more than 480,000, according to North Carolina Emergency Management.

Amber Parker, a spokeswoman for Craven County, where New Bern is located, told CNN early Friday morning the county had already logged more than 100 service calls from residents trapped on their roofs or in their cars. The NHC said a gauge in Emerald Isle, about 84 miles north of Wilmington, reported 6.3 feet of inundation.

As of the 10 pm EDT update from the National Hurricane Center, Florence is a tropical storm with sustained winds near 65 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center, in its latest advisory, said that Hurricane Florence was about to make landfall in North Carolina.

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". Some areas of SC could see rainfall totals of up to 15 inches, forecasters said.

The storm is expected to bring catastrophic flooding to the Carolinas and bring more than 20 inches of rain, including 40 inches in some part.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and into the northeastern coast of SC in spots.

Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas in United States early on Friday with howling winds, life-threatening storm surges and torrential rains.

Flood waters surround a house as Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., on Friday.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing cinderblock motel at the height of the storm.

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.

None of the people rescued were injured.

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By that time, emergency crews had already been deployed to parts of the state where people were trapped by floodwaters. On top of the potentially destructive hurricane, forecasters also put parts of North Carolina on tornado watch.

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