Hurricane Florence dumping ‘epic amounts of rainfall’ on Carolinas

A tattered American flag after Hurricane Florence in Jacksonville N.C.,Sunday Sept. 16 2018

"[Florence] will produce catastrophic flooding over parts of North and SC for some time", Steve Goldstein, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's liaison to FEMA, said Saturday.

After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 miles per hour winds, Florence virtually parked itself much of the weekend atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore.

The rain and flooding expected Saturday could double the 10 to 20 inches that have fallen so far. "The risk to life is rising with the angry waters", Gov. Roy Cooper declared as the storm's death toll climbed to 17.

Fayetteville, a city of about 210,000 people about 90 miles (145 km) inland, issued a mandatory evacuation order for thousands of residents near Cape Fear River because of flooding.

"We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns".

The Northeast Cape Fear River, near Chinquapin, North Carolina, will rise above record flood levels set by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, which has a population 200,000.

Torrential rain from Florence is now causing rapid rises in area rivers. He moved quickly as workers helped him empty more than 1,000 mattresses from a warehouse in a low-lying strip mall.

Officials said there had been at least seven storm-related fatalities in the state.

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.

"It's hard to believe it's going to get that high", says Elizabeth Machado, who came to the bridge to check on the river.

Of the 13 victims, nine died on Friday night, while the rest were killed on Saturday, according to the officials.

He earlier said the storm system 'is unloading epic amounts of rainfall: in some places, measured in feet, not inches'.

According to CNN, the storm has weakened somewhat, but is still moving to the West.

At 5 a.m. Sunday, Florence was about 20 miles (35 kilometers) southwest of Columbia, South Carolina. Its winds were down to 35 miles per hour.

The National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service is predicting "Major Flooding", its most severe classification, from the Pungo River in Belhaven, NC, to the Trent River in Pollocksville, NC, as of early Saturday morning.

Authorities are planning to airlift food and water into Wilmington, North Carolina, because storm damage cut off road access on Sunday.

A creek that feeds into the Neuse was rushing over a road near Phil Eubanks' home Saturday.

Half way around the world, meanwhile, Typhoon Mangkhut barreled into southern China on Sunday after lashing the Philippines with strong winds and heavy rain that left dozens dead.

Near the Sutton Power Plant in Wilmington, coal ash leaked from a Duke Energy landfill.

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people in all were rescued in the town of 30,000 residents without any serious injuries or deaths.

Damage to homes in her neighborhood was "horrible", she said.

Coast Guard response teams have rescued 193 people and 91 pets.

In South Carolina, a woman was killed when she struck a tree while driving, and a couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator being operated inside their home, officials said.

Tornadoes remain a threat, with the NHC saying that 'a few tornadoes are possible in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern SC'.

Officials urged those who had evacuated to stay away.

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