5 dead in Hurricane Florence, including mom and infant

Credit PA

Credit PA

With the eye of Florence stalled near the coast, the half of the storm still out over the Atlantic continued to collect warm ocean water and dump it on land.

North Carolina's governor, Roy Cooper, said Florence was set to cover nearly all of the state in several feet of water.

The National Hurricane Center said as much as 40in (102cm) was expected on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC. That could affect the infrastructure, bridges, residences, farms and other buildings, Dahler said.

"Hurricanes normally come in and they go inland, which sucks the power out of them as they go over the land", he said.

Even as the winds abated, the waters rose. "This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall".

After a night of torrential rain, devastating wind and unsafe storm surges, the damage that Florence, now a tropical storm, brought to the Carolina coast is only now starting to fully reveal itself.

"Right now we've rescued over 400 people".

"And we're not done yet", Graham said, adding that some hard-hit areas could get an additional 15 to 20 inches because the storm was moving so slowly.

The 18th century town, with a population of 30,000, has been badly flooded, with 4,200 homes damaged.

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

That's how hard the wind gusted in North Carolina's New River inlet.

By midday, Florence had already claimed its first lives, when a tree crashed onto a home in Wilmington, North Carolina, killing a mother and her infant daughter.

Firefighters said the area had not been in the zone under evacuation orders.

An earlier report that two deaths in Carteret County that were related to the storm have since been corrected.

Elsewhere in North Carolina, a man was knocked to the ground while outside and died.

Four looters have already been arrested in Brunswick County, North Carolina as Tropical Storm Florence wreaks havoc on the coast. The state Emergency Management Division estimated more than 170,000 South Carolinians were without power before lunchtime Saturday.

The president may travel to the region next week, the White House has said.

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 military announced Saturday it was deploying almost 200 soldiers to assist in storm-related response and recovery efforts, along with 100 trucks and equipment.

Rescue crews in Onslow County helped evacuate 70 people from a Jacksonville hotel early Friday after the roof collapsed and rain rushed in.

The centre of the hurricane made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina, at 7.15am local time.

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.

By Friday morning Florence had already sapped power to almost 450,000 customers in the Carolinas, emergency officials said.