Hurricane Florence approaching Carolina coast, will move west this weekend

Volunteer Amber Hersel from the Civilian Crisis Response Team helps rescue Keiyana Cromartie 7 and her family from their flooded home on Friday in James City N.C. near New Bern

There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries, but authorities said more than 100 people were rescued further north in New Bern, where the downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was under water. We are more inland from the coast.

With the brunt of the storm yet to come, a gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, a city near the coast, was already recording 10 feet (3 meters) of inundation, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Hurricane Florence is a real, ongoing threat. That means the potential for days of hurricane force wind gusts, high waves, and storm surge that could be as high as 15 feet.

At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Governor Cooper said, with more facilities being opened. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachian mountains, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Prisoners were affected, too.

More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate before the streets became inundated.

The latest predictions also show that, while Florence will pack less powerful winds, it will also slow down, allowing it to drop much more rain on the Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender county areas.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. Operations at airports in New Bern, Fayetteville and Jacksonville, North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, are also expected to remain suspended through Friday.

High winds and downed power lines are another concern for that region.

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

The storm is causing "life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds" according to the NHC.

Florence weakens to Category 2 hurricane but still life-threatening: NHC | New Hampshire
The Triangle is starting to feel effects of Hurricane Florence as thousands lose power

At time of writing, Hurricane Florence is inching towards the coastline, and the combination of intense rainfall and gnarly swell threaten to engulf low-lying land in the region.

People in the storm's path shared video on social media of the now-Category 1 hurricane's still-intense 90 miles per hour (150 km/h) winds as the eyewall moved through Wilmington, North Carolina. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 90 centimetres of rain, touching off severe flooding.

Across several eastern states, residents scrambled to leave as the Category 4 storm, with winds of 225kmh, approached. Forecasters warn it will bring "catastrophic freshwater flooding", according to the National Hurricane Center.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

Though Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a category 2 hurricane, it's still likely to cause significant damage via flooding along the Carolinas. Residents are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew and communities with financial struggles are slow to rebuild after a major disaster. In some counties, almost 1 in 3 people live below the poverty line.

Florence will crawl along the coast through Friday bringing a relentless period of winds gusting over 100mph along with heavy rainfall.

"We'll operate without power; we have candles. You feel like you should have already left".

Others were at home hoping for the best.

"On a scale of one to 10, I'm probably a seven in terms of worry, she said".

"But we can't replace us so we chose to come here".

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