4 dead as Hurricane Florence drenches the Carolinas

The storm has been downgraded from a category 4 hurricane to category 1, but authorities warn that it remains extremely unsafe and could kill many people.

The storm brought life-threatening storm surge and hurricane strength winds.

"Some of the rainfall totals we're getting are already adding up to about 14 inches", NHC Director Ken Graham said shortly after 11 a.m. ET. More than 500,000 homes and businesses are without electricity in North and SC.

Along the coast, floodwaters have been hitting inland towns near rivers that normally discharge into the ocean.

Tropical Storm Florence keeps drenching the central Carolinas, with an additional 10 to 15 inches of rain expected before it finally swings north over the Appalachian Mountains and into the Ohio Valley on Monday. "And it's basically a big hole and water did go into that hole, but we are safe in this facility".

Forced more than 60 people to evacuate a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after part of the roof collapsed, city officials said.

The 5 a.m. Hurricane Florence track.

The No. 1 mission right now, Cooper said, is to save lives.

The city of New Bern issued a curfew Friday morning, effective from 7 a.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday "upon any public street, alley or roadway or upon public property".

New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw said about 200 people were rescued overnight and taken to shelters, while another 150 were still awaiting help early Friday.

North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from prisons and juvenile detention centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

Eye wall of Hurricane Florence onshore in North Carolina.

In Wilmington, residents who had decided not to evacuate were lining up to get ice from a vending machine - $2 for a 16-pound (7.2-kilo) bag.

Those waves were coming from the Neuse River, which is about 25 feet (8 meters) away, and downhill, from his house.

There's still a threat from rising tides, Risty-Davis says. Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the floodwaters.

Over half a million homes and businesses were without power by mid morning in North and SC and utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration efforts could take weeks.

The hurricane's top sustained winds have dropped to 85 miles per hour, while it moves slowly toward SC at 6 miles per hour. Its winds were down to 45 miles per hour (75 kph).

That was the year Hurricane Fran made landfall near Wilmington as a Category 3 storm.

Florence has left at least six people dead, including a mother and her child who died after a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina, police said. Florence's landfall - when the center of the eye reaches land - is likely to happen mid- to late morning Friday, CNN forecasters said.

In the besieged North Carolina town of New Bern, rescuers plucked more than 100 people from rising waters, but about 150 more had to wait when conditions worsened and a storm surge reached 10 feet.

But weather officials have cautioned that Florence's promise of heavy rains - and the flash flooding and prolonged flooding it will cause - likely will be the storm's most unsafe impact, especially since the storm surges will block the usual flow of water back to the ocean. Rainfall of up to 20 to 40 inches could fall over the next five days in some areas, forecasters say.


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