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Even as Florence weakens, flooding is still a major threat

16 September 2018

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. "More than likely it's maybe a mindset of 'we've been through this before, '" he said.

Authorities also confirmed a 78-year-old man's body was found outside by family after being electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords in the rain.

Florence's top sustained winds have weakened to 80kmh but it is projected to bring further catastrophic flash flooding.

Rescue crews used boats to carry more than 360 people from rising water in the river town of New Bern, North Carolina, while many of their neighbors awaited help.

Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as 10 feet, backing up onto rivers already swollen by almost two feet of 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.

By Friday evening, the center of the storm had moved to eastern SC, about 15 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. It blew ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

Even as the winds abated, the waters rose.

The NWS says southern and central portions of North Carolina into far northeast SC are expected to report an additional 10 to 15 inches of rainfall - with storm totals between 30 and 40 inches along the coastal areas south of Cape Hatteras.

At times, Florence was moving forward no faster than a human can walk, and it has remained such a wide storm that its counter-clockwise winds keep scooping up massive amounts of moisture from the sea.

Hurricane Florence path: Storm moves to SC - bringing CATASTROPHIC flood risk
There have been seven storm-related deaths since Florence , then a Category-1 hurricane , made landfall Friday morning. And weather officials said more is coming, labeling as "extreme" the impacts from storm surge and flash flooding.

Doll said that people living in low-lying areas next to streams, creeks and rivers, especially in farther inland areas, need to pay attention and evacuate in case rivers start flooding.

The hurricane center said the storm will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

In New Bern, a riverfront city near the North Carolina coast that saw storm surges up to 10 feet (3 meters), authorities were rescuing stranded residents and taking stock of damages.

Heavy rains will continue to fall in the Carolinas and heavier rains are expected to spread into western parts of North Carolina, in addition to some parts of eastern Tennessee and eastern Georgia, Doll said.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 36 trillion litres, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 25 centimetres. The Neuse River rose rapidly, overcoming the streets of New Bern.

Volunteer rescue teams from across the country joined emergency responders in rescuing families trapped by the floodwaters.

"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard ..."

A day after Florence blew ashore in North Carolina with 90 miles per hour (145 kph) winds, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and other rescue crews used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles to reach scores of people trapped on rooftops or otherwise caught in the floodwaters. Hughes said the vehicle's roof is what struck the tree.

Ashley Warren and boyfriend Chris Smith managed to paddle away from their home in a boat with their two dogs, and the experience left her shaken. Local media said she suffered a heart attack.

Even as Florence weakens, flooding is still a major threat