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Running Out Of Cots, North Carolina Shelters Strained As Florence Hits

Running Out Of Cots, North Carolina Shelters Strained As Florence Hits

Forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and SC with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

Forecasters warned that drenching rains of anywhere from 1 to 3½ feet as the storm crawls westward across North and SC could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.

A man sits on a park bench in a flooded park as the Cape Fear River rises above its usual height in Wilmington.

By 2 p.m. Saturday, the storm won't even be halfway across SC, forecasters say. "There is probably not a county or a person that will not be affected in some way by this very massive and violent storm".

Tragedy struck one family when a tree fell on a house; a mother and child were killed. "The father was transported to (New Hanover Regional Medical Center) with injuries". In Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris. 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. At 5:30 a.m. a reporter in a downtown hotel here in Wilmington heard the signature hurricane sound - a low, heavy humming combined with an nearly musical high note.

Parts of New Bern, North Carolina, which is home to 30,000 people, were 10ft (3m) underwater on Friday.

In nearby New Bern, where water levels reached at least 10 feet overnight, 150 people requested a rescue. Calls for help kept coming in as the wind picked up and the tide arrived, said city public information officer Colleen Roberts. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the authorities in New Bern said on Twitter. "My wife's in a panic right now".

"We're in God's hands", said Rick Foreman, pastor at West Lumberton Baptist Church, as the Lumber River steadily rose Friday and local residents filled sandbags. "This is a 500- or 1,000-year event".

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said North Carolina is likely to see eight months of rain in two to three days.

Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach, S.C., on September 14, 2018.

More news: As Florence moves west, North Carolina prepares for recovery

By early afternoon, Florence's winds had weakened to 75 mph, just barely a hurricane, but the storm itself had slowed to a crawl as it traced the North Carolina-South Carolina shoreline, punishing coastal communities for hours on end.

As she sat in the hotel lobby eating a cold breakfast of bananas, cereal bars, and pastries, she recalled that the decision to heed the mandatory evacuation order for her area wasn't hard.

"We've got nearly 20,000 people in 157 shelters", Cooper said.

Amanda Tesch, a spokesperson for the Carteret County Emergency Services, said that earlier reports from her office that the death toll has been raised were never correct.

Florence is projected to migrate at barely more than a walking pace across northern SC, passing close to the city of Florence - truly - on Saturday.

"Florence is an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper told NPR's Morning Edition.

"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", Cooper said. Trump plans a visit to the region next week. It was crawling west at 5 miles per hour (7 kph).

Duke Energy said in a tweet that they anticipate between 1 to 3 million outages across the Carolinas, adding that restoration in the hardest-hit communities could take weeks.

But the size of the storm meant the path didn't really matter.

Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic.