Dolphins swimming in flood water caused by Hurricane Florence

CBS News

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

The hurricane made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at about 7:17 a.m., the National Hurricane Center said.

Though weakened, Florence remains a very large, slow and risky storm as it swirls over the Carolinas. On Friday afternoon, it was traveling at just 3 to 5 miles per hour, still near the coast.

CORRECTING TYPO IN CITY NAME People are rescued by members of the U.S. Army during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018. Its winds were down to 45 miles per hour (75 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

In New Bern, North Carolina, the National Weather Service said there was 10ft of water.

"Life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern to central Appalachians from western North Carolina into west-central Virginia through early next week, as Florence moves slowly inland", the NHC statement read.

What's most important for people returning to flooded areas, according to experts, is to not assume that water left over from the storm is OK to consume or wade through without protection, even if days have passed.

Florence continues to bring rains and threaten lives on the east coast of the United States even after it was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm after making landfall.

The 400-mile-wide hurricane has already splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast.

In general, south eastern sections of North Carolina like Wilmington and Fayetteville are at risk of flooding.

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After landfall, the storm is expected to linger over the area for a few days, which would result in rising river levels and lakes. Experts agreed that despite Florence losing some power, it was still poised to sow just as much destruction - if not more.

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Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge moved in for an extended stay along the coast. Doll said, based on doppler radar estimates, some areas will accumulate up to 25 inches of rainfall. He said parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges - the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane - as high as 10 feet.

In New Bern, along the coast, homes were completely surrounded by water, and rescuers used inflatable boats to reach people. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later cancelled.

"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".

"It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave", said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

Cooper also requested additional federal disaster assistance in anticipation of what his office called "historic major damage" across the state. More ppl now face a threat than when the storm was offshore.

Prisoners were affected, too. At least five deaths are connected to the storm.

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. In Wilmington, high winds blew transformers, plunging the city into darkness. It happened in the coastal town of Swansboro.

The effects of Florence won't be fading anytime soon, either, as current forecasts have upwards of 15-to-20 additional inches of rain possible for areas of North and SC will Florence's remnants will linger for the next 48 to 72 hours. They had heeded officials' warnings that the storm was treacherous, with record-setting rains and storm surges not seen in North Carolina in decades.

Florence was packing 120mph winds (193km/h) on Thursday but weakened from a Category 3 hurricane to Category 1 before it hit the coastline on Friday.

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