Florence turns deadly, unleashing ‘catastrophic floods on Carolinas

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The governor of the storm-hit U.S. state of North Carolina has warned that Tropical Storm Florence could linger for days, wiping out communities as it sweeps across the country's east.

—So far: almost 31 inches (79 centimeters) of rain was reported in Swansboro, on the North Carolina coast, and forecasters Saturday expected another 15 inches (nearly 40 centimeters) in parts of the Carolinas.

Rivers and creeks rose toward record levels, threatening flash flooding that could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges.

More than 760,000 customers in North Carolina were without power and 21,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state.

In North Carolina, fears of what could be the worst flooding in the state's history led officials to order tens of thousands to evacuate, though it wasn't clear how many had fled or even could.

Hurricane Florence is a massive storm, and some of its girth is due to climate change, according to a new study that finds that the hurricane is 50 miles (80 km) larger and has 50 percent more rain than it would if human-made climate change weren't affecting it, previously reported. The county has a population of 325,000, about 20,000 in the riverfront county seat of Conway. The previous record of 24.06 inches was set during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell - and combined with high tide, made for risky flooding.

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More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate. More than 615,849 customers have lost power as of 2 pm Friday, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety .

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

Government aid can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-priced loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of Florence, a tropical storm that made landfall in North Carolina on Friday as a hurricane.

Tropical Storm Florence is continuing to dump unsafe amounts of rain as it continues its slow slog across the Carolinas.

Though weakened, Florence remains a very large, slow and unsafe storm as it swirls over the Carolinas.

North Carolina utilities estimated that as many as 2.5 million state residents could be left without power, the state's Department of Public Safety said.

Florence has been dumping non-stop rain over areas already flooded by seawater and swelling rivers and creeks across both states. One model even shows the potential for an additional 30 inches, although that may be overdone.

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The North Carolina Baptist Men's organization planned to begin soon moving kitchen equipment inland, where they expect to prepare 85,000 meals a day when all its feeding operations are up and running. Florence "will produce catastrophic flooding over parts of North and SC for some time", NOAA official Steve Goldstein said.

For people living inland in the Carolinas, maximum peril could come days later as all that water drains, overflowing rivers and causing flash floods.

Heavy rains and storm surge created destructive flooding of several feet throughout the Carolina coast. That means its torrential rains will be felt harder.

The storm was expected to become a tropical depression on Saturday and significant weakening was expected over the weekend, the NHC said in a bulletin.

Trump tweeted at 7:05 p.m. Friday, about four hours after the first reported deaths from Florence were announced, that he visited Puerto Rico last October and was told by officials on the island that 16 people had died. However, there is still some disagreement among the models as to how much of the storm center motion is to the north versus to the northeast. As it moves advance OH and West Virginia, it would seriously change a remnant low.

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Officials have confirmed four deaths in North Carolina as a result of Hurricane Florence . Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large waves.