Hurricane Florence Leaves Over Half a Million in the Dark

Hurricane Florence Drowned a Riverfront 30 Miles from the North Carolina Coast

The National Hurricane Center said Florence's winds have slowed to tropical storm strength, and said the storm is moving slowly inland with sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour and higher gusts.

Florence plowed into the Carolinas and lumbered slowly inland on Friday, knocking down trees, gorging rivers, dumping sheets of rain and leaving five people dead before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.

Forecasters say the center of the eye of Hurricane Florence is about to make landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina.

"Into next week our rivers are going to continue to rise and there will be more significant flooding", Cooper said.

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Two other people died in North Carolina's Carteret County, according to the county's emergency management services office.

Annazette Riley-Cromartie said she and her family thought they'd be safe in their brick house in eastern North Carolina. A woman died a few miles north of that and two elderly men died in Lenoir County.

"This storm is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days", Cooper said.

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, city officials posted photos of toppled gas pumps and a downed trees early Friday, warning residents to take shelter and avoid roadways.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "The President is expected to travel to areas affected by the storm early to middle of next week, once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts".

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Surges of 10 feet had been reported early Friday Morehead City and elsewhere in North Carolina, the National Weather Service said. Florence's landfall - when the center of the eye reaches land - is likely to happen midmorning Friday, CNN forecasters said.

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"Great job FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement - not easy, very unsafe, tremendous talent". The hurricane centre downgraded Florence to a tropical storm later in the day.

"We're deeply concerned for whole communities which could be wiped away".

Hundreds of people in North Carolina have been rescued from rising water. "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was", he said. Storm surge search and rescue operations have been underway across the county.

It has trapped people in flooded homes, with citizen swift-water rescue teams from out of state joining local emergency professionals around the clock to try and bring them to safety.

After reaching a terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph (225 kph) earlier in the week, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles (kilometers) east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.

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.

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

Meanwhile, many were experiencing a complete blackout as the storm damaged infrastructure, utility poles and transmission lines.

More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate before the streets became inundated.

"Our house is on high ground so we're not anxious about the flooding", he said. "But there are a lot of big trees around so we preferred to spend the night at a friend's to be sure".

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