Flood waters rise, eight killed as Florence dumps 'epic' rain on Carolinas

Flood waters rise, eight killed as Florence dumps 'epic' rain on Carolinas

Later downgraded to a tropical storm, slow-moving Florence arrived over North and SC just after 7am local time on Friday, bringing torrential rain and severe floods.

Police said 150 to 200 residents have been rescued earlier on Friday and 150 or more were still awaiting rescue.

By Friday evening, the eye of the storm had moved to SC. "Cameras outside the International Space Station captured dramatic views of rapidly strengthening Hurricane Florence at 8:10 a.m. EDT Sept. 10 as it moved in a westerly direction across the Atlantic, headed for a likely landfall along the eastern seaboard of the USA late Thursday or early Friday", NASA explains in a new blog post.

"If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible", Mayor Mitch Colvin said at a news conference.

A fallen tree lies atop the crushed roof of a fast food restaurant after the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018.

In New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge "overwhelmed" the town, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said.

As of noon, Emerald Isle had more than 23 inches (58 centimeters) of rain, and Wilmington and Goldsboro had about a foot (30 centimeters). The storm knocked out power to almost 930,000 homes and businesses, and the number could keep rising. Though forecasters later downgraded Florence to a tropical storm, the monster system is barely moving over the Carolinas and could dump drenching rains of up to 3½ feet (1 meter).

Heavy rain from Florence will soak the east coast early next week.

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Despite the downgrade the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that "life-threatening storm surges" would continue into the night, predicting "catastrophic freshwater flooding" over parts of North and SC.

One potential road out was blocked as flooding forced the shutdown of a 16-mile (26-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 95, the main route along the Eastern Seaboard.

Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million and 3 million outages.

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

Trump has been criticized for his response to Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico last September and resulted in almost 3,000 deaths.

President Donald Trump praised the "incredible job" being done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency workers and first-responders. "We are stuck in the attic". "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled. She tried to row out of her neighborhood Thursday night with a boat that was in her yard after her home began to flood, but had to retreat because of the poor conditions.

Ashley Warren and boyfriend Chris Smith managed to paddle away from their home in a boat with their two dogs, and the experience left her shaken.

Scientists can't say - yet - that climate change helped make Florence worse.

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