First Hurricane Florence deaths: mother, baby killed by tree

Hurricane Florence still a threat despite downgrade

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than one million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Before sunrise, high winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., on September 14, 2018.

What the hurricane "has now lost in terms of maximum wind speeds near its centre, it has now gained in terms of sheer expansiveness", said Peter Mullinax, a meteorologist at Planalytics.

Forecasters say the center of Hurricane Florence is hovering just inland near Cape Fear, North Carolina.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", New Bern city officials said on Twitter.

Florence's eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 840,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend.

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Hurricane Florence makes landfall in Carolinas, threatens catastrophic flood
The NHC notes that amount of rainfall would "produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding". The Weather Channel is reporting that tornado warnings were in effect further north for Virginia Beach, Virginia.

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A North Carolina TV station had to evacuate its newsroom in the middle of Hurricane Florence coverage as floodwaters surrounded the building. New Bern Police Lt. David Daniels said that between 150 and 200 people were rescued so far, with others still waiting for help.

The total bill for damage from Florence could eventually reach $US10 billion ($13.8b) to $US20 billion ($27.7b), said Chuck Watson, a disaster researcher at Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia.

With graphics depicting an intersection on a street in the American state of North Carolina, the forecaster explains what is likely to happen as the water engulfs the state's coastline amid sound effects of wind, rain and rushing water.

Twenty inches were reported by early Friday afternoon in the town of Oriental. As the storm moves into hilly terrain, it's also expected to unleash catastrophic and potentially deadly flash flooding and possibly mud slides, the hurricane center warned.

Video taken in several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through thigh-high water.

Nearly two million people have been displaced by Florence (Pic: GETTY) "It wasn't safe".

"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighbourhood making sure my neighbours are fine because nobody can get in here". "People who live in New Bern have experienced hurricanes before, but it has been a long time since we have experienced something like this". Super Typhoon Mangkhut was expected to hit an area in the Philippines on Saturday that would affect 5.2 million people.

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