'Relentless rains' continue as Florence almost stalls over Carolinas

WATCH: Weather Channel Reporter Caught Allegedly Dramatizing Hurricane Winds, Gets Slammed Online

By midday, Florence had already claimed its first lives, when a tree crashed onto a home in Wilmington, North Carolina, killing a mother and her infant daughter. In the state´s Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris. A 78-year-old man connecting extension cords in the rain was electrocuted, according to Roger Dail, the Lenoir County director of emergency services.

Many vehicles were seen submerged in the rising flood waters after Hurricane Florence struck Wilmington, North Carolina, on Saturday. Cooper cited a National Weather Service forecast that said almost the entire state could be covered in several feet of water.

Five people are known to have died as the massive weather system knocked down trees, flooded rivers, and dumped sheets of rain in the Carolinas.

The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.

Florence's eye made landfall over the Wrightsville Beach water tower about 7:15 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Wilmington.

Members of the North Carolina National Guard finish stacking sand bags under a highway overpass near the Lumber River which is expected to flood from Hurricane Florence's rain in Lumberton, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018.

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown area was under water by Friday afternoon. "Don't drive across standing or moving water", the governor said, urging people to heed evacuation orders. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they are seeing the floodwaters rise".

Dan Eudy said he and his brother were awakened on Thursday night by the sound of a boat ramming against his front porch. "These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions", the NWS says. Eudy and his family stayed home in New Bern in part to protect their house. "When a hurricane like Florence hits, we have to hope and pray that our communities do not suffer the consequences of years of irresponsible coal ash practices by the coal ash utilities".

Dolphins have been seen swimming close to the shoreline in high water caused by Hurricane Florence.

Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 964,000 customers in that state and SC. More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds collapsed part of the roof. Numerous evacuees took their pets. As of Saturday morning, a large swath of the Carolinas were still seeing up to 2 inches of rainfall every hour, and relief might not come for days.

The White House yesterday said President Donald Trump had approved making federal funding available in some counties. Trump planned a visit to the region next week.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the US electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm. Duke Energy said late Friday that it anticipates 1 million to 3 million outages in the Carolinas, and that full power restoration could take weeks. "In addition to the flash flood and flooding threat, landslides are also possible in the higher terrain of the southern and central Appalachians across western North Carolina in southwest Virginia".

By Saturday morning the winds weakened to 50mph but the storm's slow speed means that communities in North Carolina are receiving a prolonged battering by torrential rain.

The National Hurricane Center said as much as 40in (102cm) was expected on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC. Super Typhoon Mangkhut was expected to hit an area in the Philippines on Saturday that would affect 5.2 million people.

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