Hurricane Florence death toll: Four dead as 'BIBLICAL’ storm batters North Carolina

Lynne Wortham of North Carolina is staying with a friend in Elkhart while she waits out Tropical Storm Florence

Lynne Wortham of North Carolina is staying with a friend in Elkhart while she waits out Tropical Storm Florence

Seventy people had to be pulled from a collapsing hotel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued. The longer the hurricane winds continue, the longer water can be pushed inland, Graham said.

Among the Superfund sites most at risk from Florence is Horton Iron and Metal, a former shipbreaking operation and fertilizer manufacturing site in a low-lying floodplain along the Cape Fear River outside Wilmington, North Carolina.

Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge moved in for an extended stay along the coast.

"The water kept rising and kept rising", he said.

The National Hurricane Center described Florence's path as a wobble around southeastern North Carolina.

Although the storm is now a Category 1 hurricane, it is still dumping feet of rain over coastal communities.

Debris from the storm covers a street in downtown New Bern, N.C.

"Their rescue teams had been working for several hours and they were flat worn out".

"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience". "(It's) a risky situation here", Cooper said.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

The National Hurricane Center reported Florence had sustained winds of more than 144 km/h at landfall and was moving slowly westward.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons (68 trillion liters) of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

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According to the U.S. National Weather Service, there are 5.25 million residents in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places under tropical storm warnings or watches.

In Morehead City, what was once a building became a pile of rubble. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

That kind of scenario is likely to repeat itself all over communities in Eastern North Carolina, as swollen rivers flood towns and the pouring rain adds to the misery.

The NHC said Florence had the potential to dump historic amounts of rain on North and SC, as much as 40 inches (one meter) in some places.

One city in North Carolina has picked up more than 23 inches (58 centimetres) of rain in two days.

Another person died in a shelter at West Brunswick High School Thursday morning, however, their death was not related to the hurricane.

President Donald Trump praised the "incredible job" being done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency workers and first-responders.

The hurricane was also deadly, killing four people. He was taking a stroll on the beach before the arrival of Hurricane Florence. They said his mother was holding him when the tree came crashing down. "Really all you could do is stay inside and hope for the best".

"This is our only home".

"The evacuation was countywide, but since we're not in a flood zone, we weren't really anxious about that", she told VOA.

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