First deaths reported from Hurricane Florence after Wilmington home collapses

Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence rolled ashore in North Carolina with howling 145km/hr winds and terrifying storm surge early Friday (local time).

The storm's movement, not its strength, has forecasters and officials anxious.

The port city of Wilmington woke Friday to the sound of exploding electrical transformers with strong gusts throwing street signs and other debris as well as water in all directions, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

On Thursday evening, the Neuse River burst its banks which caused rapid flooding in New Bern, North Carolina, forcing residents to flee as the entire city lost power. "So if you find yourself here, please get out", meteorologist Erika Navarro pleads, as the virtual waters rise above her head.

More than 12,000 were in shelters in North Carolina.

WXII-TV reported that 150 people were waiting to be rescued from rising waters in the city New Bern.

Footage shows a pier and a beach in Nags Head, North Carolina, being hit with heavy surf as the storm rolls into the area. The Category 1 storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour and is moving slowly, at 6 miles per hour.

On the morning of September 14, the National Hurricane Centre warned that "catastrophic" flooding and "life-threatening" storm surges were expected to spread inland.

Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will become a tropical storm tomorrow (Sept. 15) over SC, continue northwest to eastern Kentucky, then swing northeast and track over most of New England early next week.

In April, The State newspaper in Columbia reported that an Army investigation had faulted Fort Jackson officials' handling of a 2015 storm that caused an 80-year-old earthen dam to crumble and release 100 million gallons of water.

After that, Florence is forecast to move northwest and north and move across western SC on Sunday, Sept. 15, and across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, Sept. 16, the NHC said. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".

The storm was reduced to a Category 1 Hurricane just before it barrelled into the US East Coast.

Defense Secretary James Mattis activated dual-status commanders in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to command and control active duty and National Guard forces.

Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia, jamming westbound roads and highways for miles.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

According to poweroutage.us, more than 500,000 customers in North Carolina and 50,000 in SC were without power on Friday morning, though the Weather Channel estimates up to 3 million customers could lose power in the Carolinas due to Florence.

"Some say North Carolina is getting a break, but we are on the wrong side of this story", he said.

Some residents ignored calls to evacuate.

"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", he said.

"I built this house myself, so I'm not anxious at all, I know it's solid", he said.

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