Hurricane Florence pounds the Carolinas as it nears landfall

Hurricane Florence approaches landfall in North Carolina; more than 80,000 without power

Hurricane Florence approaches landfall in North Carolina; more than 80,000 without power

Florence's rain will reach 40 inches in some parts of the Carolinas, and gusty winds will send the ocean and rivers spilling into neighborhoods, forecasters said. It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.

In Morehead City, the rain and surf pounded the shoreline and took aim at the few boats still in the water.

Union Point Park is flooded with rising water from the Neuse and Trent Rivers in New Bern, N.C., September 13, 2018.

24 hour rainfall totals from Thursday to Friday ranged from about five inches in Wilmington to nearly 10 inches near Morehead City.

Thursday night was a long one along the coast as Hurricane force winds moved through coastal communities. Later Friday, a wind gust of 68 miles per hour was measured at a station in Wrightsville Beach, near Wilmington.

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which had dropped off from an alarming 140 miles per hour - Category 4 - earlier in the week.

In New Bern, WCTI television employees fled their studio Thursday night due to rising flood waters. The storm is expected to lumber into far southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC through Saturday, punishing the area with rain and damaging winds. A turn toward the west at a slow forward speed is expected today, followed by a slow west-southwestward motion tonight and Saturday.

Hurricane Florence is hitting the North Carolina coast hard. The actual landfall - when the center of the eye reaches land - will be Friday afternoon at the earliest, said Neil Jacobs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Coastal streets flowed with frothy ocean water, and at least 490,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid. That's enough to fill more than 15 million Olympic-size swimming pools. Despite its unpredictable path, it was forecast to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday on Friday.

"There is some damage. but it is still standing strong". They eventually used a front loader to clear the way, he said.

More news: Wind approaches outer banks of North Carolina
More news: Hurricane Florence unleashes wrath on United States , with worst yet to come
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Cheryl Browning lives with her husband and son, who has terminal cancer, in Richlands, North Carolina. "We might leave", she said.

And there's no way her family could afford that - or the $1,728 per room another hotel quoted. "He is the only caregiver to me and my son", Browning said. The flooding was caused by overflow from the Pungo River, she wrote. "But I think it'll be OK".

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia, jamming westbound roads and highways for miles.

At least five people have died since the storm crashed into the coast and almost stalled.

"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management.

"This storm is relentless and excruciating", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told CNN late on Friday. "Tens of thousands of structures are expected to be flooded, and many more by rising rivers and creeks".

His bustling pizza restaurant is one of the few businesses open in the evacuated town. The center was about 20 miles north-northeast of Myrtle Beach.

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Additional states have declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, including Georgia and the District of Columbia. Steady organization resulted in the formation of a tropical depression, environmental conditions tore the storm apart, and Florence degraded to a tropical storm later. Hurricane Helene is veering toward Ireland and Great Britain.

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