Hurricane Florence kills at least three people

Hurricane Florence kills at least three people

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing cinderblock motel at the height of the storm. Water was already rising in roads and buildings. Others could only wait and hope someone would come for them. Officials are advising people affected to move to an attic or second story for safety.

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from Wilmington police.

The NHC also warns of "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding" through early next week.

As of 2 am local time, Florence was centered about 55 kilometers east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Rains are expected to be quite a real hazard from the storm, as it will have a slow movement towards SC before it turns north.

One city in North Carolina has picked up more than 23 inches (58 centimetres) of rain in two days.

Wind speeds are kicking up far from the coast in central SC as Hurricane Florence slowly makes its way along the coast.

"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending", Cooper said.

The Canadian government has warned citizens against travel to the stretch of the U.S. East Coast that is expected to be hammered by Florence.

Florence brought hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge as it made landfall along the coast of North Carolina near Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 a.m. Friday.

Also, the tornado threat remains low.

But with a storm surge putting pressure on water to head back inland and heavy rains swelling those rivers, widespread flooding is the result.

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Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

Florence was seen as a major test for FEMA, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared a year ago for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate months that followed.

Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water.

In North Carolina, Florence is expected to dump up to 40 inches of rain and storm surge will be high. Pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines. Gusty winds will send the ocean and rivers spilling into neighborhoods. Roof shingles were peeled off a hotel. Combined with 70 miles per hour wind gusts, the water was strong enough to move the city's "Swiss Bear" statues that nod to the city's Swiss roots.

Will Epperson, a 36-year-old golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm at their home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but then reconsidered.

"I have no generator", said Petra Langston, a nurse.

The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.

"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way, '" she said.

At least 12,000 people have taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.

More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved out of the storm's path.

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