Hurricane Florence Hits Near Wrightsville Beach

Paul Anthony Menchaca.         Source Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

Paul Anthony Menchaca. Source Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

A tree that fell on a house, killing two people, is seen during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018.

Tropical storm Florence lumbered inland on Saturday, knocking down trees, flooding rivers, and dumping sheets of rain in the Carolinas where five people have died.

The storm is likely to bring significant rain to the Carolinas, where some places could see upwards of 20 inches, the update said.

The massive system weakened into a tropical storm in the late afternoon but across the region, emergency officials warned that more water was yet to come, with cresting rivers and flash flooding fed by the unending rain.

Florence is expected to dump 18 trillion gallons of rainwater on USA soil, meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted.

A hilarious video which has gone viral on Twitter with over 10 million views shows a weatherman seemingly struggling to stand in high winds during Hurricane Florence - even as two men walk calmly behind him, apparently unaffected. For those wishing to track Florence's devastation from miles away, PBS NewsHour has compiled this guide of sources that we will be closely monitoring as the storm progresses.

The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 miles per hour (135 kph) by nightfall.

WXII-TV reports the city of New Bern said Friday that two out-of-state FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more teams were on the way.

The fifth death, indirectly linked to the storm, occurred in Pender County's Hampstead community, Pender County Emergency Management Director Tom Collins told WWAY.

President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for North Carolina on Saturday, freeing up federal funding for affected areas.

Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland".

At the Comfort Suites in Wilmington, hotel staff hiding out with news crews and storm refugees were left in the dark when the power went out. New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Charlotte Observer about 200 people already had been rescued by 5 a.m.

"We moved all the furniture up in case the water comes in but the water seems to be staying at the edge of the driveway", he said, adding that if the wind picks up and the rain keeps coming, that could change. About 210,000 people were staying in 170 shelters in the Carolinas.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 0.9 metres of rain, touching off severe flooding.

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.

The storm made landfall Friday at 7:15 a.m. ET just south of Wrightsville Beach - about 6.5 miles due east for Wilmington, North Carolina.

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified 41 Superfund sites in threatened parts of the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland and Georgia, including polluted industrial sites, chemical plants, coastal shipyards and military bases. More are expected, as the storm could bring winds up to 45 miles per hour around the area, according to Durham County emergency management officials.

The aquatic mammals are seen swimming against the current of the storm surge as it pounds the coastline near Wilmington, North Carolina, yesterday.

As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

Others were at home hoping for the best. "And you don't need power to sling booze", said owner Eli Ellsworth.

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