Florence hovers over coastal states, raising fears of epic flooding

‘Uninvited Brute’: NC Gov Says Florence Could Wipe Out Entire Communities

The spreading disaster claimed additional lives Monday, with at least 18 people confirmed dead, and the nation's top emergency official said other states were in the path this week.

Among the survivors encountered by Associated Press journalists this weekend was Lionel Atkinson, who drove to check on his mother in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and ended up stranded at her house because nearby roadways flooded and made it too risky for him to try and get home.

"But what's great, honestly, is I, for the first time ever in a couple days, have cell service, so it's been really great to be able to just find out what's going on".

After tearing through the Carolinas for several days, Hurricane Florence severely damaged tens of thousands of homes, killed over a dozen people, left almost a million households without power, and unleashed thousands of cubic yards of toxic coal ash-and authorities are warning that the worst flooding from the storm is yet to come. "So we are trying to get it dried out, so we can... get open and get everything squared away", said restaurant owner Raymond Karem.

About 509,000 homes and businesses were without electricity on Monday in North and SC and surrounding states.

Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as 10 feet (3 meters).

The volunteer United Cajun Navy rescue group says it was helping in Leland, where about 200 people have made calls for help, after it made numerous rescues in Wilmington.

Hurricane Florence continues to rip through the Carolinas in the USA today, wreaking destruction and causing widespread flooding and infrastructural damage.

The storm is expected to move north through the Charlottesville, Virginia, area before heading toward the Ohio Valley, hitting West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.

A state of emergency continues to be announced in five coastal nations, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland as well as Virginia. SC also set a record for most rain in a single tropical weather system, previously set by Tropical Storm Jerry in 1995.

Florence has been downgraded to a tropical depression, but the storm's impacts are far from over.

Overflows also were reported at several hog "lagoons" - used to store waste from pig farms.

By 5 a.m. Monday, Florence's winds were about 30 mph (45 kph), the NWS said, with weakening forecast over the next 24 hours before intensifying again.

About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.

The number of homes covered is down 3 per cent in North Carolina and 6 per cent SC compared with five years ago. 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.

If you're thinking it's time to return to the coast or perhaps drive down to check on your property there, the N.C. Department of Transportation urges you to wait a little longer.

That's how hard the wind gusted in North Carolina's New River Inlet.

The mayor of New Bern, a city badly affected by flooding, told NBC he had imposed a curfew.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", a tweet from the city overnight said. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled.

"Honestly, I don't know. During Matthew the water never reached their house", she said.

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