Florence slams North and SC coast

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"We moved all the furniture up in case the water comes in but the water seems to be staying at the edge of the driveway", he said, adding that if the wind picks up and the rain keeps coming, that could change.

Both deaths were reported to the State Medical Examiner's Office by the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says that as the hurricane hit the coast overnight, officers "responded to 108 calls for service and 30 collisions". "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave".

The centre of the hurricane made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina, at 7.15am local time.

Storm surge was as high as 10 feet on the Neuse River, he said. It started pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a watery siege that could go on all weekend. Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of environmental havoc from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said "24 to 36 hours remain for significant threats" from heavy rain, storm surge and flooding.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

Five to 10 inches of rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding in North Carolina, South Carolina, and southwest Virginia. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 10cm of water, he calculated.

Kathy Griffin was hunkering down Friday in a hotel in Wilmington, North Carolina with her husband.

Pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air. The streets were mostly deserted and some were blocked by fallen trees.

The center of the hurricane will reach Horry County some time Friday evening, but tropical storm force winds can already be felt in the state.

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It just barely has Category 1 hurricane strength with top sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kph).

Airlines cancelled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday. Only one North Carolina is expected to more than 1 meter of rain.

More than 100 people were waiting to be rescued from homes and vehicles Friday morning in New Bern, N.C., after Hurricane Florence brought severe flooding to the area.

New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Herald-Sun around 5 a.m. that about 200 people had been rescued so far.

New Bern, a city of about 30,000 residents, has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Tuesday.

Wilmington's airport recorded a 92mph wind gust on Friday morning, the fastest measured since Hurricane Donna hit the city in 1960.

Florence was inching along Friday night, trapping people in flooded homes and promising days of destruction and human suffering.

"(It's) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", Sandie Orsa of Wilmington, told the Associated Press, from a hotel lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.

He said 20,000 people were being housed in shelters across the state.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said hurricane and storm surge warnings are in effect for South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina, and the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds.

In Pender County, North Carolina, a woman suffered a heart attack and died because hurricane debris blocking roads prevented paramedics from reaching her.

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