Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will become a tropical storm tomorrow (Sept. 15) over SC, continue northwest to eastern Kentucky, then swing northeast and track over most of New England early next week. About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".
The expected high winds and slow movement of the hurricane as it comes ashore are likely to make rescue efforts in flooded areas challenging, senior US Defence Department officials say.
Some towns have received more than 2 feet (60 centimeters) of rain from Florence, and forecasters warned that drenching rains with as much as 3½ feet (1 meter) of water could trigger epic flooding well inland through early next week.
Some parts of North Carolina have already seen surges as high as 10ft in places.
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.
The death not related to the hurricane and it is under investigation.
For people living inland in the Carolinas, however, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest.
In Wilmington, near where the eye of the storm touched down, trees and power lines were felled and many windows were broken. Traffic lights out of order because of power failures swayed in the gusty wind.
Florence was moving west-southwest at about 5 miles per hour (7 km/h), with its center located over eastern SC.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour as of 5 a.m., the briefing said.
Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out. Downed trees blocked the road, making it impossible for paramedics to get to her. Numerous calls are from residents who are trapped in their homes, some of whom reported floodwater rising up to the second floor. "Nothing's hit the house yet, but it's still blowing".
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. CORRECTING TYPO IN CITY NAME Vechicles are seen as members of the U.S. Army rescue people during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018.
Tropical Storm Florence claimed at least one home, a roof and, possibly, a life as it made its slow march through central South Carolina Friday night and Saturday. The flooding began on barrier islands in North Carolina and then spread into coastal and river communities there and in SC, swamping the white sands and golf courses in North Myrtle Beach.
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Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic. Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.
Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Flash flooding has spread into Raleigh and will expand over Charlotte as well, where flash flood advisories are in effect.
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Mid September is peak hurricane season and it's not unusual to have multiple storms in the ocean at the same time. About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.
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