Hurricane Florence kills at least three people

Waves crash around Oceana Pier in North Carolina as the outer edges of Hurricane Florence began to affect the coast on Thursday

Waves crash around Oceana Pier in North Carolina as the outer edges of Hurricane Florence began to affect the coast on Thursday

More than 485,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said.

The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which dropped way down from a terrifying 140 miles per hour - Category 4 - earlier in the week.

Cooper said Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days".

It was set to inundate nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, State Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, while National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted up to eight months of rain in two or three days. The non-emergency call center for Hurricane Florence is 919-996-2999.

The center of the storm will make landfall near Wilmington early Friday morning.

More news: Hurricane Florence becomes Category 1; outer bands lash coast, catastrophic flooding expected

Southwest Virginia, West Virginia, the Ohio River Valley, and western and central Pennsylvania all have a chance of rain from Florence's remnants on Monday and Tuesday that could lead to flash flooding, depending on where the heaviest rainfall rates develop.

"I'm not going to put our personnel in harm's way, especially for people that we've already told to evacuate", Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House said.

As of 11 p.m., Florence was centered about 85 miles (135 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to 5 mph (7 kph).

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper encouraged those in the path of the storm to take immediate action.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and SC with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

WXII-TV reports the city of New Bern said Friday that two out-of-state FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more teams were on the way.

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North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

Screaming winds bent trees and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday.

The worst of the storm's fury had yet to reach coastal SC, where emergency managers said it was not too late for people to get out.

In Puerto Rico, much of the material had to be flown or shipped in - which didn't happen for more than a week, in some cases - and then had to be distributed by people who were also victims of the storm. The Weather Channel is reporting that tornado warnings were in effect further north for Virginia Beach, Virginia.

He added that people living near rivers, streams and lowland areas in the region were most at risk.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than one million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

More news: Hurricane Florence Loses Steam, but Shifting Forecast Predicts Huge Rainfall

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