Hurricane Florence has forced these businesses to halt operations

Hurricane Florence Reduces Its Intensity But Not Its Destructive Power

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At least four people, including a mother and her baby, were confirmed dead on Friday night as Hurricane Florence brought a "biblical" deluge to the USA east coast. He said parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges - the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane - as high as 10 feet. The baby's father was taken to hospital.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.

After landfall, Florence slowed to a pace that meant it would plague the area with days of flooding.

With the brunt of the storm yet to come, a gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, a city near the coast, was already recording 10 feet (3 meters) of inundation, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the country's Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders held out hope of being rescued.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence came ashore near the town of Wrightsville Beach, almost 10 kilometers east of the city of Wilmington, with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour and higher gusts.

As Americans in North and SC begin to feel the effects of Hurricane Florence, The Weather Channel has reminded viewers of how risky storm surges can be.

On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air. Twenty inches (50 cm) were reported by early Friday afternoon in the town of Oriental.

Amber Parker, a spokeswoman for Craven County, where New Bern is located, told CNN early Friday morning the county had already logged more than 100 service calls from residents trapped on their roofs or in their cars. He said all roads leading to his neighborhood were blocked by fallen trees.

"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.

"This is my third hurricane that I have worked, my second one with Craven County", she says.

"There's going to be really nowhere for anybody to go", said Chief House with Wrightsville Beach Police.

"This storm will bring destruction", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

Emergency response teams have been "fully pre-positioned" to help local governments and companies like utilities cope with the damage Florence will leave, Long said - but the storm has to leave.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 225 km/h, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend.

About one million seven hundred thousand people have been ordered to evacuate on the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The family is hoping for the best, given the potential threats the hurricane poses to lives and properties. Florence is expected to arrive in southeast North Carolina on Friday morning before drifting south into SC.

"It looks heavy outside", she said.

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