Florence punishes Carolinas with torrential rain, flooding; 8 dead

WATCH: Weather Channel Reporter Caught Allegedly Dramatizing Hurricane Winds, Gets Slammed Online

This retired Marine is rescuing storm victims in his military transport vehicle

North Carolina officials said there had been at least seven storm-related fatalities in the state, with unconfirmed reports of a further three deaths. "Life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern to central Appalachians from western North Carolina into southwest Virginia through early next week".

"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending", Cooper said.

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters Water from the Neuse river floods houses during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina.

An ominous tweet appeared on the historic North Carolina community's Twitter feed about 2 a.m. Friday.

Florence flattened trees, buckled buildings and crumpled roads.

On Saturday evening, Duke Energy said heavy rains caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station outside Wilmington, North Carolina.

A mother and infant were killed in Wilmington, North Carolina, when a tree fell on their home.

United States media later said a man in Lenoir County died after heavy winds knocked him down as he tried to check on his dogs.

The viral video, which has more than 13.6 million views, showed Weather Channel correspondent Mike Seidel in Wilmington, North Carolina, trying to fight the heavy wind as he reported live from the storm on Friday.

Shaken after seeing waves crashing on the Neuse River just outside his house in New Bern, restaurant owner and hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.

She said she called 911, but no one came.

As of 5 a.m. ET, top sustained winds had dropped to near 80 km/h with higher gusts, and Florence is expected to become a tropical depression later Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

"The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it ... made landfall 24 hours ago", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday morning.

The centre said the storm would dump as much as 40 inches (102 cm) of rain along coastal areas of the Carolinas, as well as up to 10 inches in southwestern Virginia.

There is really nowhere for the water to go. The town of Oriental, North Carolina, got more than 20 inches (50 centimetres) just a few hours into the deluge.

In general, south eastern sections of North Carolina like Wilmington and Fayetteville are at risk of flooding.

About 10mn people could be affected by the storm.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

Tropical Storm Florence's relentless rain is flooding parts of the Carolinas and promises even more for days, officials said Saturday, a day after it landed as a hurricane and left at least 13 people dead - including a baby.

It's moving very slowly, at about 2mph (3.2km/h).

Trump previously declared states of emergency in North and SC, and Virginia.

Picture the entire state of Texas covered with roughly 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water: that's Florence's rainfall forecast over a week.

More than 22,600 people were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena.

Members of the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force search a flooded neighbourhood for evacuees during Hurricane Florence in Fairfield Harbour, North Carolina. Record flooding is expected Tuesday on the Cape Fear at a crest of 62 feet there. "We're asking people, please stay off the streets unless it is an absolute emergency", he said. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".

Boat teams including volunteers rescued some 360 residents, including Sadie Marie Holt, 67, who first tried to row out of her neighborhood during Florence's assault.

"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard ..." Eudy and his family stayed home in New Bern in part to protect their house. She was eventually rescued by a boat crew; 140 more awaited assistance. What they found, however, were two dogs and two cats in dire straits.

"Honestly, I grew up in Wilmington. I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.

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