Killer storm far from over, USA officials warn as 'epic' rain falls

Eduardo Munoz  Reuters               A downed tree rests on a house during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of Wilson North Carolina

Eduardo Munoz Reuters A downed tree rests on a house during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of Wilson North Carolina

Though downgraded to a tropical storm, the slow-moving Florence will continue to threaten more death and destruction as it crawls over the Carolinas and then moves inland and north over the coming days.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm but said life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic freshwater flooding were expected over portions of North and SC.

These rains are expected to produce "prolonged, significant river flooding". A mother and her infant were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.

- A 78-year-old man was electrocuted in the rain while trying to connect extension cords for a generator, Lenoir County, North Carolina spokesman Bryan Hanks says.

Earlier Saturday, officials in North Carolina's Carteret County said two other people were dead as a result of the storm.

150 people trapped by Florence floodwaters in New Bern, NC

Mandatory evacuations were ordered ahead of Florence's landfall in parts of North and SC, though many people chose to remain in their homes for reasons ranging from financial concerns and the need to care for pets that they may not have been able to take to some evacuation shelters, some who stayed in their residences told ABC News ahead of the storm.

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in SC ahead of the storm.

"Great job FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement - not easy, very unsafe, tremendous talent".

The Federal Emergency Management Authority said motorists should not attempt to drive through floodwaters. But the National Hurricane Center warned people of the hurricane's strong winds and its "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall" in an update Thursday evening. Some waterways in the Carolinas have already seen water levels 20 feet above average.

"Things are getting better slowly, and we thank God for that", White said.

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Photos and videos from around the region, and particularly North Carolina, showed the power that Florence contained as it came ashore, leading to rescues across the area. They are part of Cajun Navy which is an informal volunteer group set up after Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the Carolina coast for days.

—So far: almost 31 inches (79 centimeters) of rain was reported in Swansboro, on the North Carolina coast, and forecasters Saturday expected another 15 inches (nearly 40 centimeters) in parts of the Carolinas. Power outages are widespread including over 740,000 in North Carolina and 163,000 in SC.

Rapid response teams were on stand by with the air force for search and rescue missions as authorities undertook damage assessments in areas in the path of the storm, which felled trees, electricity poles and tore off shop signs and sheet metal roofs hundreds of kilometres away.

Images captured by Associated Press journalists show flooded streets, uprooted trees, stranded residents and recovery crews in the aftermaths of Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut.

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Wind gusts of up to 65mph are forecast with up to 80mph possible in more exposed areas. Another commenter said: 'That hurricane better be taking me to dinner first'.

Mason Tarr said he spent the night at a friend's house but didn't sleep well.

Ms Liu said they were looking for clues into what plant foods the Natufian people - who lived between the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods - were eating, and during the search they discovered the traces of a wheat-and-barley-based alcohol.

"We're out of power so we spent the first few hours of the day playing board games with candles".

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