Florence bringing 'catastrophic' flooding, mudslides as rivers rise in Carolinas

AP     A member of the U.S. Coast Guard assists Roger and Susan Hedgepeth in Lumberton N.C. Sunday following flooding from Hurricane Florence

AP A member of the U.S. Coast Guard assists Roger and Susan Hedgepeth in Lumberton N.C. Sunday following flooding from Hurricane Florence

Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, knocking out power and causing at least eight deaths as flood waters that have devastated many communities kept rising.

At least five people have died in the state in relation to the storm.

Florence was downgraded from a hurricane soon after it made landfall on the U.S. east coast. Tens of thousands of meals were being prepared to serve in the most damaged areas, and hotel rooms and other temporary housing are being located for people displaced from their homes.

A day after Florence blew ashore in North Carolina with 90 miles per hour winds, more than 2ft of rain had fallen in places, with forecasters saying there could be an additional one-and-a-half feet by the end of the weekend.

More than two feet of rain had fallen in some eastern counties places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional foot-and-a-half by the end of the weekend.

LUMBERTON, North Carolina - Even as Florence leaves the Carolinas, the floodwaters and death toll keep rising. It's about 425 miles west of the Azores, moving north-northeast at 22 mph.

One potential road out was blocked as flooding forced the shutdown of a 16-mile stretch of Interstate 95, the main route along the Eastern Seaboard.

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"We have 4,200 damaged homes", he said, urging residents to not wade out into the streets because of the dangers posed by downed power lines. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, said officials were focused on finding people and rescuing them.

Duke Energy says heavy rains from Florence caused a slope to collapse at a coal-ash landfill at a closed power station near the North Carolina coast.

Torrential rain from Florence is now causing rapid rises in area rivers.

At the height of the flooding, some residents were trapped in attics, and others couldn't escape because roads were rendered impassable by rising waters, including from the Neuse River. Southwest Virginia could see up to 15 inches, and the rest of the mid-Atlantic and New England states face 10 inches of rain.

And a fifth person reportedly died of a heart attack inside her home in Hampstead, North Carolina, the New York Post reported.

There are no coastal watches and warnings in effect, although flash flood warnings are in effect across a large portion of southern and western North Carolina and parts of northeast SC and southwest Virginia.

President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for North Carolina, the White House said Saturday.

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A mother and infant were killed in Wilmington, NC, when a tree fell on their house, WECT reported.

"It was pitch black and I was just scared out of my mind", said Tracy Singleton, who with her family later fled her home near New Bern.

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people had been rescued in the town of 30,000 residents without any serious injuries or deaths. Similarly, U.S. 501 would be the only way into Myrtle Beach.

- A woman in SC who struck a downed tree while she was driving.

Members of Onslow County emergency look to see if a passenger was still in a vehicle that was overtaken by flooding on US Route 17 outside of Jacksonville, North Carolina.

By Tuesday, Guy said, "the remnants of Florence will be pushed towards the Northeast, where areas from northern Pennsylvania through central NY towards Boston could pick up some heavy rain".

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