Mother and baby among dead as Hurricane Florence lashes U.S. coast

Volunteer Amber Hersel from the Civilian Crisis Response Team helps rescue 7-year-old Keiyana Cromartie and her family from their flooded home

Hurricane Florence has made landfall in North Carolina, but its crawling pace and overwhelming storm surges are setting up hours and hours of destruction and human suffering - with dozens desperately awaiting rescue in one flooded town alone.

Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.

People in the storm's path shared video on social media of the now-Category 1 hurricane's still-intense 90 miles per hour (150 km/h) winds as the eyewall moved through Wilmington, North Carolina.

Rainfall will be one of the most destructive elements of hurricane Florence, with heavy rain triggering risky flash floods and potential landslides. Duke Energy expects between 1 million to 3 million homes and businesses to lose power.

"It's important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete, and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1:00 am ET this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted", the channel said. "Little rough but we're all out", a tweet said.

Hurricane Florence Reduces Its Intensity But Not Its Destructive Power
Governor Cooper said there have been " several hundred" rescue operations and "there are still some people they need to get to". Roy Cooper. "The storm is wreaking havoc on our state". " Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", he said.


High winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., September 14, 2018. "We are stuck in the attic".

Cooper said 108 shelters are open across the state, with more than 7,000 people already staying at them, as of Thursday afternoon.

National Hurricane Center: Florence about to make landfall in N. Carolina causing life-threatening storm surge.

Whether residents left their homes, sought refuge in a shelter or are hunkering down, the weather service has bad news: After creeping inland, Florence "is expected to slow down even more today and tonight". The National Hurricane Center in Miami says more than 16 inches of rain have fallen at locations in southeast North Carolina and another 20 to 25 inches is on the way.

The Cape Fear river crested at 8.27 feet about 3:30 p.m., setting a new record and by Wednesday, the Maccamaw River may climb to 17.1 feet, the National Weather Service's Wilmington office reported, just shy of its record.

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Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will become a tropical storm tomorrow (Sept. 15) over SC, continue northwest to eastern Kentucky, then swing northeast and track over most of New England early next week. New Bern is about 32 miles north of Morehead City, North Carolina, and 101 miles southeast of Raleigh.

Shaken after seeing waves crashing in the Neuse River just outside his house in the town of New Bern, hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.

Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach more than 360 people besieged by rising waters in New Bern, while many of their neighbours awaited help.

Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out. Local media said she had suffered a heart attack.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did.

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"When it comes around back, that's when I'll be making a call", he said.

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