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Update from Virginia Beach as Hurricane Florence starts flooding the Carolinas

15 September 2018

As Hurricane Florence pounds the North Carolina coast with 90-mph winds and relentless rain, more than 100 people have been plucked from a storm surge that's already reached 10 feet, as dozens more await rescue.

A mother and infant were killed in Wilmington when a tree fell on their house as Hurricane Florence crashed into North Carolina on Friday, swamping streets with torrential rain and a powerful storm surge.

Downgraded but unsafe: Though now a Category 1 storm, hurricane-force winds extend 80 miles from Florence's center, and it will linger for days, with prolonged winds and rain making it more risky.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds.

Footage posted on social media showed a meteorologist saying on air they had to evacuate. The forecasters have also warned that the expected rainfall could reach up to 40 inches and the storm is expected to slowly move southwest into SC before turning north.

Now ~150 awaiting rescue in New Bern.

Heavy rainfall could leave nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, it's feared.

New Bern, which sits along the Neuse River, has seen massive flooding and damage from the storm. Florence originated from a strong tropical wave that emerged off the west coast of Africa.

Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

It diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, but forecasters said the 560-km-wide storm's slow progress across North and SC could leave much of the region under water in the coming days.

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3 feet of rain were considered an even bigger threat than its winds, which dropped way down from a terrifying 140 miles per hour - Category 4 - earlier in the week.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the USA electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm.

- The number of North Carolina residents without power is now more than 480,000, according to North Carolina Emergency Management.

"Florence is moving toward the west-northwest near 6 miles per hour (9 km/h)".

North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centres in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

"This surge is also likely along portions of the SC coast", the warning continues. A gust of 105 miles per hour (169 km/h) was recorded at Wilmington airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago.

The storm surge is going to be potentially life-threatening for some areas along the United States coastline.

Hurricane Irma destroyed Kathy Griffin's house in Florida previous year, and it could be days before she finds out whether Florence smashed her fifth-story condominium in Wrightsville Beach, where authorities said utilities could be out for days or weeks.

As in every significant natural disaster, Hurricane Florence is providing a test of the capacity and resilience, not just of wood, stone and steel structures, but of the structure of the society. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles (135 kilometres) north of Wilmington. But forecasters said its extreme size meant it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day. The last Category 4 storm to come out of the Atlantic and strike the North Carolina coast head-on was Hazel in 1954, the most destructive previous event in that region.

"A basketball sized hole was found in a corner room by an Officer", officials said.

No one was injured, city officials said.

None of the people rescued were injured.

Update from Virginia Beach as Hurricane Florence starts flooding the Carolinas