Mother and Infant Among First Reported Fatalities as Hurricane Florence Makes Landfall

Mother and Infant Among First Reported Fatalities as Hurricane Florence Makes Landfall

The heart of downtown historic district of Charleston, South Carolina, is almost empty as Hurricane Florence makes its slow trek across the Carolinas.

Millions of people in the path of Hurricane Florence are hunkering down Friday as the monster storm pummels North and SC, bringing catastrophic inundations and flooding and forceful, destructive winds. Over 60 people had to be pulled out of a collapsing motel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and hundreds were saved as water levels rose. We were forced to have conversations with these people and say hey, do you by chance live in a two-story home?

There were no immediate reports of any deaths.

Hurricane Florence pummeled North Carolina, making landfall Friday morning with storm surges and wind gusts before contributing to at least five deaths.

The town of Oriental had gotten more than 457mm of rain just a few hours into the deluge, while Surf City had 355mm and it was still coming down. "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave".

The hurricane was "wreaking havoc" and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days", the governor said.

Gov. Cooper said Friday, "As soon as it is safe, first responders will make sure they go and rescue people who need to be saved from this storm".

The center of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

It was expected to begin pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a drenching that could go on all weekend.

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1-3ft of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which had dropped off from an alarming 140mph earlier in the week. Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland over the next few days as Florence crawls westward across the Carolinas all weekend.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

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.

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Cooper told ABC News' David Muir that residents should continue to shelter in place, even though Florence is no longer a hurricane, because roads are covered in debris and water, and rescues are still taking place in coastal areas.

It is expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

Rainfall also is swelling waterways: Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that 34 million people in the USA are forecast to get at least 3 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence, with more than 5.7 million people probably getting at least a foot of rain.

The rain began again about 1 p.m. Friday, with forecasters predicting the region will see another 25 inches of rain overnight into Saturday.

On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air. The streets were mostly deserted and some were blocked by fallen trees. Traffic lights out of order because of power failures swayed in the gusty wind.

Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing. As of 2 p.m. ET, Florence's sustained winds dropped to 75 miles per hour and it was slowly heading inland after wobbling along the coast, the National Hurricane Center said. Duke Energy said late Friday that it anticipates 1 million to 3 million outages in the Carolinas, and that full power restoration could take weeks.

In North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Safety reported that about 485,143 people were without power, while according to The Post and Courier, more than 32,000 people were reported to be without power in sc. New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Charlotte Observer about 200 people already had been rescued by 5 a.m.

North Carolina counties Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, Wake, and Wayne were hit the worst and had the majority of the power outages Fox News reported.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", said Ballance, owner of a seafood restaurant that was flooded.

Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.

He said 20,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state. As of Friday afternoon, the storm was moving across southeastern North Carolina at 3 miles per hour.

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