NEW BERN, N.C. -Florence continued to drench the Carolinas Saturday as it lumbered across the region, claiming at least five lives and stranding hundreds of people in floodwaters.
North Carolina Army National Guard soldiers were sent to a home along the 100 block of El Nora Lane in Otway, North Carolina, on Friday in reference to two deaths there.
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A gust of 169km/h was recorded at Wilmington airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago.
In Wilmington, near where the eye of the storm touched down, trees and power lines were felled and many windows broken. "We didn't know where to go", she said.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and into the northeastern coast of SC in spots.
Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.
Power outages affecting more than 900,000 in Carolinas.
Hurricane Matthew sent more than 5 feet of water into their home in 2016, and the couple feared Florence would run them out again.
He said residents should "expect flooding and potential landslides tonight and into Monday", and warned against driving in the water "no matter how confident you feel or how much you want to get out of the house".
"Please be safe and be smart and use your common sense", Cooper added.
Once a Category-4 hurricane with winds of 225kph, the hurricane was downgraded to Category 1 on Thursday night.
Governor Cooper advised North Carolina residents inland that rivers will rise days after the rain has stopped.
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As Florence first broke on land yesterday 90mph winds struck the coastal areas, but as the storm system moved across land it was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm.
A mandatory evacuation order was issued for the area earlier this week.
At least seven people, including a mother and an infant, were killed in the storm.
A person inside the house in the 700 block of Violet Street reported leg pain as a result of the incident and was taken to a hospital, according to Lexington County spokesman Harrison Cahill.
In Pender County, a woman died from a heart attack after paramedics were not able to get to her. The two other people, a mother and her baby, were killed in New Hanover County when a tree fell on a home.
In Lenoir County, a 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords, and another died when he was blown away by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs.
In New Bern, at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers in North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000.
The National Weather Service warned of "life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods" as a staggering 18 trillion tons of rain could be dumped on the Mid-Atlantic through next week, enough to cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches of water.
Eudy said his family stayed in their home partly to protect their house.
Some local residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit early on Friday.
Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of North and SC.
SC authorities said law enforcement officers were guarding against looting in evacuated areas.