Hurricane Florence to cause massive flooding in US

Alexander Gerst  European Space Agency

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds across the state.

A mother and her baby died when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina. The father was taken to a nearby hospital with injuries.

Local authorities reported another death, in Pender County, when downed trees prevented emergency units from reaching a woman with a medical condition. A fourth person was killed in Lenoir County while plugging in a generator, the governor's office said.

Satellites also continue to monitor Hurricane Florence as it passes over North Carolina to help meteorologists make more accurate predictions of how the storm will impact people living in the region.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared a year ago for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath.

"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", he said.

Forecasters warned that drenching rains of 30 centimetres to 1 metre as the hurricane-turned-tropical storm crawls westward across North and SC could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.

"New Bern is just not used to this level of a hurricane", with damaging gales, rains, storm surge and flash flooding, said New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw. Numerous evacuees took their pets.

Maysie Baumgardner, 7, sheltered with her family at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as Florence's floodwaters filled the streets. "If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it".

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of the state in several feet of water.

During the day a faulty rain gauge briefly caused inaccurate rain estimates - some as high as 30 inches - which the National Weather Service quickly corrected.

Twenty inches were reported by early Friday afternoon in the town of Oriental.

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina Friday morning, bringing howling winds up to 90 miles per hour, reports The Associated Press.

By yesterday evening, the centre of the storm had moved to eastern SC, about 15 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

Forecasters believe the biggest danger right now is the water, not the wind.

"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.

The American Humane Society is one of several organizations helping animals escape the storm.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

The White House said US President Donald Trump was to visit hurricane-hit areas next week "once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts".

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