Five dead in Carolinas as Florence brings ´epic´ floods

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Tropical Storm Florence keeps drenching the central Carolinas and is expected to generate up to 380 millimetres of rain before it swings north over the Appalachian Mountains and into the Ohio Valley on Monday.

"The cost to SC, if that happens, if the storm continues the way it is going, could be in the billions", Dahler said.

NOAA NOAA / Reuters Hurricane Florence is shown from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) #GOESEast satellite shortly after the storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, US, 14 September.

Many social media users picking up on the two people in the background and mocked the reporter for exaggerating the wind gusts of Hurricane Florence.

Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.

Tropical storm-force winds stretched up to 150 miles (240 kph) from the storm's center. "We have started to see the water recede". Seventy people had to be pulled from a collapsing hotel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued.

In North Carolina, the city of New Bern was particularly hard hit.

WILMINGTON: Florence barreled into the Carolina coast and moved inland on Friday, knocking down trees, overflowing rivers, dumping sheets of rain and leading to the death of five people before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc. The city said two FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more were on the way.

Though weakened, Florence remains a very large, slow and unsafe storm as it swirls over the Carolinas.

By midday, Florence had already claimed its first lives, when a tree crashed onto a home in Wilmington, North Carolina, killing a mother and her infant daughter.

North Carolina utilities have estimated that as many as 2.5 million state residents could be left without power, the state's Department of Public Safety said.

View of Florence in Wilmington, N.C., on Friday.

People around the Carolinas are being told that say they can buy flood insurance policy right now that will cover damage done by Florence, according to FEMA. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated. They had heeded officials' warnings that the storm was treacherous, with record-setting rains and storm surges not seen in North Carolina in decades.

The small town of Hamlet in Richmond County, North Carolina, for example, is full of toxic emitters: within its borders are a chicken processing plant, an energy company and a wood pellet manufacturer that broke ground within the past few years. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled. She was eventually rescued by a boat crew; 140 more awaited assistance.

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