Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina

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On Saturday morning, the 563-km-wide storm was strolling along at 3.2kmh, unleashing drenching downpours in eastern SC.

Florence plowed into the Carolinas and lumbered slowly inland on Friday, knocking down trees, gorging rivers, dumping sheets of rain and leaving five people dead before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.

On Thursday evening, the Neuse River burst its banks which caused rapid flooding in New Bern, North Carolina, forcing residents to flee as the entire city lost power.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the storm was posing an even greater risk of flooding than when it first made landfall.

The NWS says southern and central portions of North Carolina into far northeast SC are expected to report an additional 10 to 15 inches of rainfall - with storm totals between 30 and 40 inches along the coastal areas south of Cape Hatteras. But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind. "This system is unloading an epic amount of rainfall".

Fire firefighters rescue people from their flooded home during the Hurricane Florence in New Bern, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018.

Forecasters warned that drenching rains of up to 3 feet as the 90 miles per hour storm crawls westward across North and SC could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which dropped off from an alarming 140 miles per hour - Category 4 - earlier in the week. "We still have about 100 that want to be rescued and we have about 1,200 in the shelters", Mayor Dana Outlaw told CNN. He was blown down at 8 a.m.at his home on Middle Street.

New Bern has been one of the hardest hit areas by Florence, experiencing a 10-and-a-half-foot storm surge.

A mother and her eight-month-old baby were killed Friday when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from police in Wilmington, N.C. The father was transported to a hospital for treatment.

Evacuation zones in Horry and Georgetown counties remain under the order.

"All school closures, except those in Horry and Georgetown counties, are right now, immediately returned to local school authorities", McMaster said. Another woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.

Elsewhere in North Carolina, a man was knocked to the ground while outside and died.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

President Donald Trump is expected to travel to areas hit by Florence next week, once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts, the White House said on Friday.

Onslow County spokesman Cornelius Jordan said some visitors at the Triangle Motor Inn were able to drive away on their own, but emergency personnel had to take others to a safe location.

Emergency crews rescued hundreds of stranded people on Friday as Hurricane Florence pounded the US East Coast with driving rain, howling winds and risky storm surge.

The military announced Saturday it was deploying almost 200 soldiers to assist in storm-related response and recovery efforts, along with 100 trucks and equipment.

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.

Hurricane Florence is battering North Carolina with wild winds and a powerful storm surge.

The viral video showed Weather Channel reporter Mike Seidel in Wilmington, North Carolina, shifting his position to brace himself against the wind gusts coming at him.

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