Four dead as Florence drenches the Carolinas

First deaths from Hurricane Florence reported in North Carolina

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.

Wilmington Police confirmed that a mother and her infant died when a tree fell on their home. A woman in Pender County, North Carolina, died from a heart attack after calling emergency services, as paramedics could not reach her because of fallen trees.

More than 100 people were rescued and up to 75 more were awaiting rescue on Saturday morning, according to a town official.

Firefighters in North Carolina took a moment to kneel and pray at the site where a mother and baby were killed by a tree that fell down during Hurricane Florence.

Nearly 20,000 people had taken refuge in 157 emergency shelters, Mr Cooper said.

At a briefing, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the risk of fatality will only grow when people venture out once the winds die down. "Hurricane Florence is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days".

"We're all kind of waiting".

"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", city public information officer Colleen Roberts said.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm has caused "catastrophic flooding" in North and SC. Tropical storm force winds were being felt 195 miles from the center of Florence.

A speed boat sits wedged in bushes in the parking lot of a waterfront hotel in New Bern, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018. Duke Energy provides power to 4 million people across the Carolinas. Utility poles were piled up alongside Interstate 95 to replace those snapped by winds and debris. Meat companies including Tyson Foods Inc., Smithfield Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride Corp. and Wayne Farms LLC shut down operations from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.

"Hurricanes normally come in and they go inland, which sucks the power out of them as they go over the land", he said.

Most of the rivers in northeast SC and eastern North Carolina are experiencing moderate to major flooding and, in some cases, many continue rising well into next week as floodwaters from the interior flow downstream.

Heavy rain in the Appalachians could cause devastating mudslides and rockslides across the mountain terrain.

The NHC said Florence had the potential to dump historic amounts of rain on North and SC, as much as 40 inches (one meter) in some places. That is roughly double the rainfall from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, he said. "Florence's 18 trillion gallons is as much water as there is in the entire Chesapeake Bay", its article says.

Florence "will continue to track slowly inland through the Carolinas this weekend", the National Weather Service said in its 8:00 a.m. update Saturday. "This could be our Harvey".

Blowing ashore with howling 155 km/h winds, Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster.

Colleen Roberts, public information officer for the city of about 30,000 residents, told Fox News that 200 people had been rescued so far as the Category 1 storm battered the area with strong winds and a life-threatening surge. Her 6-foot-2 husband went to help, but the water was above his chest, she said.

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