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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of the state in several feet of water. "We didn't know where to go", she said. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 metres) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 metres) of rain, touching off severe flooding. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man died when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.
The Category 1 storm's winds have weakened in intensity as it neared the coast, but forecasters say the real hazard from the storm will most likely be the rains and flooding as the storm moves southwest into SC before turning north.
"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said.
The Category 1 hurricane - with maximum winds of 90 mph and dumping 3 inches of rain an hour - made landfall at 7:15 a.m. near Wrightsville Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center. It came ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
More storm surge can be seen outside a home in Belhaven, North Carolina in this video from Amy Johnson.
But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind.
Hindustan Times, owned by HT Media Ltd, is one of India's largest publications that provides unbiased news, analysis and features on politics, sports, entertainment, lifestyle and more. One of those bears, typically bolted in front of a downtown business, floated on South Front Street, prompting the city to tweet: "Some of our beloved bears have wandered off".
The flooding soon spread into SC, swamping places like North Myrtle Beach, in a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.More news: Hurricane Helene: All you need to know about storm
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The National Hurricane Center warned that "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern and central Appalachians late this week into early next week". Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of environmental havoc from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.
North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centres in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities. 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.
Flood waters surround a house as Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., on Friday. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines.
The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958, the weather service said. Nationwide, airlines canceled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday.
Firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out after the cinderblock structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", New Bern city officials said on Twitter.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted around 2 a.m.
"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.
Boat teams including volunteers rescued some 360 residents, including Sadie Marie Holt, 67, who first tried to row out of her neighborhood during Florence's assault.