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Florence acquired a Category 4 major hurricane status with estimated maximum sustained winds of 215km/h on 4 September.

More than 4,40,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said. Heavy rain pounded Oriental in Pamlico County, with 20.37 inches of rainfall recorded. "If the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water", he said.

Relief will not come quickly. The rivers are in most cases several days from cresting.

Storm surge of up to 13 feet will be "life threatening" and rainfall of up to 40 inches will mean "catastrophic" flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.

There is really nowhere for the water to go.

Police said 150 to 200 residents have been rescued earlier on Friday and 150 or more were still awaiting rescue. We know how to manage expectations.

"The water kept rising and kept rising", he said. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled. "Sixty mile-per-hour winds, shingles flying off their own homes, and they're here working for everyone else".

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 840,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend.

Yet another tropical storm formed in the Atlantic Thursday night. It's all about the steering currents. So it looks like probably Florence is slowing down as a effect, to some degree at least, from climate change. "It's like a bubble with no wind, it just floats". When she was discharged from the hospital, the roads in SC had already been closed, she said.

The coast has been battered, and the mountains appear to be next.

A hotter atmosphere can also hold more water, so this should allow hurricanes to dump more water on affected areas.

Protected: 12,000 people in shelters in North Carolina, 6,400 in SC and 400 in Virginia. Flash flooding is a threat in those states as well.

A mother and an infant were among the first known victims of the fierce hurricane.

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In Lumberton, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) inland, Jackie and Quinton Washington watched water filling both their front and back yards near the Lumber River.

Hence the refrain Friday from emergency management officials: Turn around, don't drown.

Tropical Storm Florence could taint North Carolina waterways with murky coal ash and toxic hog waste as heavy rains test environmental rules written with milder weather in mind, carrying the risk of contaminating water with bacteria like salmonella, officials said on Friday. North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had around 7 inches (18 centimeters). Duke Energy said late Friday that it anticipates 1 million to 3 million outages in the Carolinas, and that full power restoration could take weeks.

"It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave", said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

The eyewall of Florence struck the coast before dawn.

Upriver along the Cape Fear is Carolina Transformer Co., a 5-acre (2-hectare) Superfund site in Fayetteville that also contains contaminated soil and groundwater contaminated with PCBs. At 6 a.m. the electronics chirped for a moment as the power went out.

Roberts, the city spokeswoman, said preliminary estimates show about 4,300 residences and 300 commercial buildings had been damaged.

A massive tree had fallen directly into the bedroom of one family's house.

A 68-year-old man and his wife died in a house fire in Cumberland County, NC on Friday, according to a release from the NC State Emergency Response team.

A 68-year-old man was electrocuted at a residence on Silver Smith Circle Friday morning when he was trying to connect two extension cords outside in the rain.

Two deaths occurred in New Hanover County, one death occurred in Pender County, two died in Lenoir, two in Cumberland, and three in Duplin. Further development of that system is no longer anticipated, the NHC said.

He said flooding will continue for days and the full magnitude of the hurricane is unknown.