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President Trump visits Carolinas to survey Hurricane Florence damage
President Trump surveys storm damage in NC
SC governor updates Hurricane Florence response at 2:30 PM
16 September 2018, 11:32 | Dale Webster
Watch Hurricane Florence Make Landfall in This Incredible Space Station Video
As rescuers battled strong winds and debris-filled floodwaters to pluck hundreds of stranded people from their homes, officials confirmed at least three deaths from the monster storm, while United States media reported a fourth.
The mother and her infant died of their injuries at the scene while the father was rushed to nearby New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment.
The storm is nearly at a standstill over southeastern North Carolina.
"If you are over there and something bad happens, you're out of luck", she said.
"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm", Cooper said in a statement.
Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days". "Nothing's hit the house yet, but it's still blowing".
As 400-mile-wide Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach scores of people besieged by rising waters along a river.
Parts of New Bern, North Carolina, which is home to 30,000 people, were 10ft (3m) underwater on Friday.
Both rivers overflowed their banks, flooding homes, stores and streets and trapping many people in their houses.
"You can't get over till we have power and we have sewer up and running", said the retired teacher and real estate agent, who rode out the hurricane in an inland hotel. Ballance called the rainfall "biblical", saying he's gotten reports from friends that his downtown seafood restaurant was flooded, just like the rest of the small city's historic downtown, and he's anxious about the hundreds of people who needed to be rescued overnight in the city.
Storm surge was as high as 10 feet on the Neuse River, he said.
Life-threatening Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am local time (11:30am GMT) at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington.
The hurricane has darkened the skies and homes of hundreds of thousands of residents of both North & South Carolina.
"Twenty-four to 36 hours remain of significant threat from heavy rain and heavy surge", said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They had heeded officials' warnings that the storm was treacherous, with record-setting rains and storm surges not seen in North Carolina in decades.
In New Bern, where a curfew was in place, city authorities said at least 150 people were awaiting rescue.
The port city of Wilmington woke on Friday to the sound of exploding electrical transformers with strong gusts throwing street signs and other debris as well as water in all directions, according to a reporter at the scene.
Ken Graham, the NHC's director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path.
"This is going to be a very trying period for the state", he said."We're liable to have flash floods, bridges and roads washed out".
Tom Ballance said his wife went to Atlanta and he stayed behind in their New Bern home with their three dogs and a cat.
The NHC said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 195 miles out.
According to a report from the J.P. Morgan Chase Institute, extreme weather events like the one now battering the Carolinas and Virginia can have far-reaching effects on consumers' wallets, impacting their spending for months after the storm has cleared.
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Tracking Hurricane Florence as storm lands in North Carolina
Officials in New Bern said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon. Atlantic Beach on North Carolina's Outer Banks islands had already received 76cm of rain, the US Geological Survey said.
Florence barreling closer to coast of Carolinas
Overall, risky storm surge is possible all the way from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, to the North Carolina/Virginia border. Officials had warned before the storm that the rains could risk tainting waterways with murky coal ash and toxic hog waste.