Hurricance Florence: Watch the storm close in from space

Florence already has set a North Carolina record for rainfall totals, exceeding that of Hurricane Floyd, which struck in 1999 and caused 56 deaths.

SC authorities said law enforcement officers were guarding against looting in evacuated areas, while Wilmington set a curfew on Saturday evening in response to looting in one area.

"Know that water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood".

As of 2:00 pm (1800 GMT), maximum sustained winds had weakened to near 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour, but the NHC warned residents of risky storm surges and "catastrophic flooding". The flash flooding could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges.

In Fayetteville, a North Carolina city of about 210,000 people about 90 miles inland, authorities told thousands of residents near the Cape Fear River and Little River to get out of their homes because of the flood risk.

Firefighters said the area had not been in the zone under evacuation orders. Over a million residents in North Carolina are now without power and authorities have confirmed at least five deaths.

"Usually we'd be cleaning roads and done by now", Smith said.

Near the Sutton Power Plant in Wilmington, coal ash leaked from a Duke Energy landfill. The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and mercury. The number of counties getting this level of help is likely to increase.

A 73-mile stretch of the highway closed Saturday because of flooding and an accident involving a tractor-trailer.

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Across the Trent River from New Bern, Jerry and Jan Andrews returned home after evacuating to find carp flopping in their backyard near the porch stairs.

"Maybe the communities of color that are expected to feel the greatest burden of a disaster like this don't have time to have a conversation like this with the media because they're fighting for their lives, they're fighting for their very survival", she said. "If not we'd be stuck upstairs for the next. how long?"

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people were safely rescued in the town of 30,000 residents.

The doors of many homes suffered so much wind damage they appeared to have been kicked in, while the city's beloved fibre-glass bear statues, which are sponsored by local businesses, were floating down streets.

Blowing ashore with howling 90 miles per hour (155 kph) winds, Hurricane Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster. Coast Guard members said choppers had made about 50 rescues in and around New Bern and Jacksonville as of noon.

Wildlife also found itself directly affected by Florence's floodwaters, including these deer seen swimming through neck-deep water.

"If it rises any higher, I'll break out the jon boat and go somewhere", said Watson, 62, a retired building inspector.

The casualties include a mother and baby who were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

In South Carolina, a 62-year-old woman died when her vehicle hit a tree that had fallen across a road in the town of Union. A husband and wife died in a house fire linked to the storm, officials said, and an 81-year-old man died after falling and hitting his head while packing to evacuate. And oft-critical Republicans like retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen slammed Trump's claim as "shameless and disgusting".

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The president may travel to the region next week, the White House says. Later, Trump tweeted his condolences, writing, "Deepest sympathies and warmth go out to the families and friends of the victims".

"It was tough. Wobbling".

"I rode out the storm as much as I could", Cozine said.

"The carpets. The floors".

People wait in line to fill up their gas cans at a gas station that was damaged when Hurricane Florence hit Wilmington, North Carolina.

As of noon, Swansboro, North Carolina, had almost 31 inches of rain, Emerald Isle had over 23, and Wilmington and Goldsboro had about a foot. It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Rivers are rising on the north side of Hurricane Florence as the storm swirls counter-clockwise, pushing a surge of ocean water far in from the coast.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

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