Florence hovers over coastal states, raising fears of epic flooding

'Relentless rains' continue as Florence nearly stalls over Carolinas

'Relentless rains' continue as Florence nearly stalls over Carolinas

Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 796,000 customers in that state and SC, reports CNN.

Jacob Fernandez (left) and Josh Fernandez play around on the tree that fell near their home as Hurricane Florence passed through the area on Friday in Bolivia, N.C.

Forecasters warned that drenching rains of up to 3 feet as the 90 miles per hour storm crawls westward across North and SC could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon. The National Weather Service measured storm surge in New Bern at 10 feet (3 meters) deep.

"Residents should not let their guard down", North Carolina Emergency Management tweeted.

Roads became flooded, trees blown over and homes destroyed as some parts of North Carolina have already seen surges of flood water as high as 10ft.

Florence has weakened into to tropical depression but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas. It came ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill - sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain.

Across the two states there are some 30,000 people staying in emergency shelters. But the storm was shaping up as a two-part disaster, with the second, delayed stage triggered by rainwater working its way into rivers and streams.

In Washington, North Carolina, the wind-swept Pamlico River has risen beyond its banks and is flooding entire neighborhoods. "I was looking for water moccasins to hit me at any time", he said.

United States east coast communities face "epic amounts of rainfall" from tropical storm Florence, which has been linked to at least 12 deaths. Floyd produced 24 inches (61 cm) of rain in some parts of North Carolina while Florence already has dumped about 30 inches (76 cm) in areas around Swansboro.

As much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain could fall on coastal areas in North and SC, the National Hurricane Center said.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters), enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

Tornadoes remain a threat, with the NHC saying that "a few tornadoes are possible in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern SC".

On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air. Forceful winds cracked trees in half and toppled power lines. It was moving west at 3 miles per hour, the National Weather Service said. Nationwide, airlines cancelled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday.

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Strong winds and heavy rain continue to present a danger, and Florence is now being attributed to several deaths. The page says service animals aren't barred from evacuation shelters, beaches shouldn't be used for sand bags, and evacuation orders aren't enforced by FEMA. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.