Florence pours rain on the Carolinas; death toll at 7

Gov. McMaster cautions SC residents as Hurricane Florence moves toward state

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain is forcing hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Nueces and Trent rivers.

MORE PHOTOS: Hurricane Florence Makes Landfall in Eastern N.C.

The Neuse River rose rapidly, overcoming the streets of New Bern.

But officials continue to warn local residents that the event isn't over and hazardous conditions persist.

Florence "will produce catastrophic flooding over parts of North and SC for some time", NOAA official Steve Goldstein said Saturday morning.

In an update published at 5:33 a.m. ET on Saturday, the agency said that the storm is now striking SC and has a path through the in-land charted for the next few days. An estimated 1.5 million people live in the areas now under mandatory evacuation orders by state authorities.

After looking at an analysis of expected rainfall, flooding and the effects of Hurricane Matthew, which hit SC as a Category 1 storm in 2016, officials determined that the Pee Dee River basin could flood, swelling rivers that would overtake a number of bridges on major routes, as early as Monday night.

Helicopter crews have carried out dozens of missions in coastal North Carolina and helped in the rescue of 50 people and eight pets, said Petty Officer Michael Himes of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline. North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had around 7 inches.

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Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland. At least seven people, including a mother and an infant, were killed in the storm.

Annazette Riley-Cromartie said she and her family thought they'd be safe in their brick house in eastern North Carolina.

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Authorities in SC reported one death, saying a woman was killed when her vehicle struck a fallen tree.

As of 5 a.m., Florence was 25 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Electricity remained out for much of the city, with power lines lying across many roads like wet strands of spaghetti. Mangkhut's tropical storm force winds stretched more than 325 miles from the center, while Florence's spread about 195 miles, Klotzbach said.

Quite simply, Hurricane Florence is a storm made worse by climate change.

Hurricane Florence, they found, will grow about 50 miles (80 kilometers) larger and will dump 50 percent more rain over a period from September 11 to September 16 than it would have in a world before climate change.

"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. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit.

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