4 dead as Hurricane Florence unleashes fury in Carolinas

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It comes amid otherwise serious warnings for residents in North and SC as Hurricane Florence, which was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday, continues to put properties and lives at risk.

Firefighters look into a home that a large tree fell on that has three people trapped after Hurricane Florence hit the area on September 14, 2018 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

After days of watching and waiting for Hurricane Florence's arrival, the hurricane finally made landfall - as a Category 1 - in North Carolina early Friday.

But the size of the storm meant the path didn't really matter.

Authorities said more than 60 people, including many children and pets, had to be evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse.

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.

The National Hurricane Center said early Friday that a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation.

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More than 615,849 customers have lost power as of 2 pm Friday, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. As Cooper said, "There's nowhere for the water to go".

"These are folks who chose to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", city public information officer Colleen Roberts said. Up to 10 feet of storm surge is expected, while some of the inlets can see up to 15 feet.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but its unclear how many did.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence is expected to be re-categorised as a tropical depression by the time it moves into the mid-Atlantic states and New England in the middle of next week.

"We've got nearly 20,000 people in 157 shelters", Cooper said. But with a storm surge putting pressure on water to head back inland and heavy rains swelling those rivers, widespread flooding is the result.

It's about the water, not the wind, with Hurricane Florence making an extended stay along the North Carolina coast.

The storm's movement, not its strength, has forecasters and officials anxious.

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On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air. A woman died a few miles north of that and two elderly men died in Lenoir County.

More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate. One team from Maryland helped with about 40 rescues in New Bern starting Thursday, member Mitchell Rusland said.

Florence is projected to migrate at barely more than a walking pace across northern SC, passing close to the city of Florence - truly - on Saturday. "Plant procedures call for the reactors to be shut down before the anticipated onset of hurricane-force winds", agency spokesman Joey Ledford told CNN.

The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help. She said a hurricane has a way of bringing everyone to the same level.

Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2. Officials in New Bern Friday morning reported storm surge as high as 10 feet.

Authorities warned, too, of risks of mudslides and environmental disasters from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.

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