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16 September 2018, 12:02 | Dale Webster
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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned people: "Today the threat becomes a reality".
Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain is forcing hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues in the area around New Bern, North Carolina, which sits at the confluence of the Nueces and Trent rivers.
A tree that fell on a house, killing two people, is seen during HurricaneFlorence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018.
A gust of 169km/h was recorded at Wilmington airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago.
"A mother and infant were killed when a tree fell on their house", police tweeted Friday afternoon.
Police confirmed the fatalities on Twitter, saying the father of the child was being transported to a local medical centre to be treated for his injuries.
Atlantic Beach on North Carolina's Outer Banks islands had already received 30 inches (76 cm) of rain, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Cops say a woman in Pender County, NC, died after suffering a heart attack but paramedics were unable to reach her due to blocked roads.
Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the Carolina coast for days.
Storm surges, punishing winds and rain are turning some towns into rushing rivers - and the storm is expected to crawl over parts of the Carolinas into the weekend, pounding some of the same areas over and over.
"I had a lot of fear initially but I'm glad to be inside and safe", said Zelda Allen, a 74-year-old retired tax accountant from Hampstead, North Carolina, who was riding out the storm at Wilmington's Hotel Ballast with her husband.
That kind of scenario is likely to repeat itself all over communities in Eastern North Carolina, as swollen rivers flood towns and the pouring rain adds to the misery.
At 8 p.m. Friday, Florence was centered about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east-southeast of Florence, South Carolina.
Florence has already knocked out power to close to a million households in the Carolinas, with some areas not expecting to regain electricity for days.
In a separate briefing, Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said some areas have already received two feet of rain and could expect up to 20 inches more as the system moved "slowly, almost stationary" over eastern North Carolina.
On Saturday some residents tried to return to home, driving through flooded highways armed with chainsaws to clear fallen pine needle trees that covered the road.
Authorities fear the death toll will go higher as the tropical storm crawls westwards across SC.
Kevin Knox and his family were rescued from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sgt. Johan Mackie, part of a team that was using a phone app to locate people in distress. She retreated and was eventually rescued by a boat crew; 140 more awaited assistance.
"Hurricanes normally come in and they go inland, which sucks the power out of them as they go over the land", he said.
About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians have been deployed, with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats. But there were times she thought they wouldn't survive, she told CNN.
In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River trapped people, and Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Charlotte Observer that about 200 had been rescued by 5 a.m. Residents reached out for help through the night by phone and social media.
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The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who chose to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information. ET, Florence was centred about 135 kilometres east-southeast of Wilmington , its forward movement slowed to seven km/h.
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"The sun rose this morning on an extremely risky situation and it's going to get worse", he said at a news conference in Raleigh. More than 722,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Carolinas early on Friday, utility officials said.
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