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Death toll from Florence rises to 7, North Carolina officials say
15 September 2018, 08:20 | Devin Moran
Wilmington, North Carolina police said the mother and her infant were killed after a tree fell on their house.
Later downgraded to a tropical storm, slow-moving Florence arrived over North and SC just after 7am local time on Friday, bringing torrential rain and severe floods.
In Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 people on North Carolina's Atlantic coastline along the Cape Fear River that is home to historic mansions and even a decommissioned World War Two-era battleship, streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris.
"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending", Cooper said.
Tropical storm conditions will continue along the coast within the tropical storm warning area and also well inland across portions of SC and North Carolina Saturday.
Wright is far from the only resident in the Carolinas that chose to weather Hurricane Florence, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, though many who chose to stay are starting to reconsider their decision of sticking around for what North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called a "1,000-year event".
More than 1.7 million people evacuated this week, leaving behind homes, schools and precious belongings.
It diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, but forecasters said the 350-mile-wide storm's slow progress across North and SC could leave much of the region under water in the coming days. A 77-year-old man was apparently knocked down by the wind and died after going out to check on his hunting dogs, Lenoir County authorities said. The video left many wondering if the weatherman was faking his dramatic reaction to make the hurricane appear worse than it actually is.
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.
Florence came ashore more than 24 hours ago.
The National Hurricane Center says top sustained winds have dropped to near 50 miles per hour (80 kph) with higher gusts, and Florence is expected to become a tropical depression later Saturday.
Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The coming storm surges and heavy rains will cause severe flooding that may submerge parts of the Carolinas in up to 40 inches of rain.
Still, he said: "I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth".
Storm Florence may have weakened but the full extent of the damage it has wreaked may not become clear for days.
Tropical storm warnings remain in force close by and inland from the coasts of North Carolina and SC.
In Wilmington, near where the eye of the storm touched down, trees and power lines were felled and many windows were broken.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city tweeted around 2am.
Evacuation orders have been lifted in several coastal SC counties as Florence continues to dump rain on the state. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later cancelled.
It already had, in Beaufort County and its capital city, Washington, where 300 people were rescued from flooded homes.
"And we're not done yet", Graham said, adding that some hard-hit areas could get an additional 15 to 20 inches because the storm was moving so slowly.
Five million people are at risk with warnings of possible landslides and flooding.
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The ocean waters that Florence is travelling over are about 2.7 degrees (1.5 degrees Celsius) warmer than normal, McNoldy said. Thinking of the outages likely to come, it also warns to use grills and generators outside - away from doors and windows.