Hurricane Florence lashes USA east coast, triggers flood warnings

Hurricane Florence lashes US east coast, triggers flood warnings

Winds will continue to increase throughout the day and will remain strong for much of Saturday.

Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 story late Thursday, and now contains maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour with higher gusts.

The United States Geological Survey recorded flood water 10.01 feet deep in the town of New Bern in North Carolina.

Life-threatening storm surge and rainfall are expected. He added that Hurricane Florence poses a challenge because it is expected to drift over hard-hit areas.

After that, Florence is forecast to move northwest and north and move across western SC on Sunday, Sept. 15, and across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, Sept. 16, the NHC said.

Forecasters said the Category 1 storm's extreme size meant it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day. By that time, emergency crews had already been deployed to parts of the state where people were trapped by floodwaters.

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Defense Secretary James Mattis activated dual-status commanders in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to command and control active duty and National Guard forces. The military has the benefit of using its own bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, to pre-position relief supplies and equipment.

Airlines canceled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday.

Three storm-related deaths were reported Friday afternoon, with a woman and her infant killed in Wilmington when a tree fell on their house.

Tom Balance, owner of a seafood restaurant in New Bern, had decided against evacuating his home and was soon alarmed to see waves coming off the Neuse and the water getting higher and higher.

The downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was underwater and around 150 people were waiting to be rescued, city authorities said on Twitter.

"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", he said.

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More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.

The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.

Satellites also continue to monitor Hurricane Florence as it passes over North Carolina to help meteorologists make more accurate predictions of how the storm will impact people living in the region.

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

Watch the report above and more reporting from Wrightsville Beach, N.C. below.

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