Florence kills 5, including infant, in North Carolina, officials say

Volunteer Amber Hersel from the Civilian Crisis Response Team helps rescue 7-year-old Keiyana Cromartie and her family from their flooded home

The National Hurricane Center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., at 7:15 a.m. ET, creeping slowly ashore - but bringing strong winds, a massive storm surge and a rain system that will soak much of the state and SC for days.

Roy Cooper warned residents to not let their guard down ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall later this week.

The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.

During a live Weather Channel broadcast from Wilmington, North Carolina, Seidel is seemingly holding on for his life.

The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore close to Wilmington, with sustained winds of 150km/h the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

By Friday evening, the centre of the storm had moved to eastern SC, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour.

Florence, which is now a slow-moving Category 2 storm, is expected to linger over the Carolinas before turning north and sliding into western Virginia. States of emergency have already been declared in both North and SC.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center.

The Miami-based center says Florence is bringing "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas.

New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Durham Herald-Sun around 5am that about 200 people had been rescued so far.

Nearly 20,000 people had taken refuge in 157 emergency shelters, Mr Cooper said.

Rescue crews in Onslow County helped evacuate 70 people from a Jacksonville hotel early Friday after the roof collapsed and rain rushed in.

Meanwhile more than 630,000 homes and businesses were left without power by Friday afternoon.

People survey the damage on Front Street in downtown New Bern, North Carolina. "These are folks who chose to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", city public information officer Colleen Roberts said. "You don't want to put someone in a bucket and send them high into the air to mess with power lines in 70 miles per hour winds".

Rainfall will be one of the most destructive elements of hurricane Florence, with heavy rain triggering risky flash floods and potential landslides.

A member of the U.S. Army walks through floodwaters near the Union Point Park Complex as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018.

Anyone remaining in coastal areas on the East Coast is warned that the surges can cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

The storm surge that has hit New Bern is "approximately 2 feet higher" now than it was during Hurricane Irene seven years ago, the National Weather Service office in Morehead City says.

Regarding the possibility of a storm surge, Jones said, "Everyone has to be on the lookout for that, however, the way our house sits, it's elevated".

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

A warming climate also means that the atmosphere can hold more and more water vapor, fueling hurricanes with even more water that can fall on coastal areas.

Winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power. Cooper cited a National Weather Service forecast that said almost the entire state could be covered in several feet of water.

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