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As of 8 p.m., Florence was centered about 65 miles (100 kilometers) east-southeast of Columbia, the SC capital, crawling west at 2 mph (4 kph) - not even as fast as a person walking.

Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 miles per hour (110 kph), and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 miles per hour (6 kph). It said it was located about 60 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and forecasters predicted a slow westward march. Its winds were down to 45 miles per hour (75 kph).

United States east coast communities face "epic amounts of rainfall" from tropical storm Florence, which has been linked to at least 12 deaths.

In South Carolina, emergency managers were watching several northeastern rivers that flooded two years ago during Hurricane Matthew, destroying homes and government offices.

At the W. H. Weatherspoon Power Station near Lumberton, Sheehan said it had already rained more than 30 inches (75 centimeters) by Saturday evening, causing a nearby swamp to overflow into the plants cooling pond.

Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing.

The National Hurricane Center expects Florence to dump an additional 30-40 inches of rain along the North Carolina coast and produce flash flooding.

Floodwaters surged over roads, prompting the closing of Interstate 95 just north of the Carolinas' border.

Rescue workers rush a man to an ambulance after a giant tree fell on a house in Wilmington, N.C.as Hurricane Florence came ashore, September 14, 2018. Forecasters said this onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas. It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.

That's Jay Barnes. He's a hurricane historian and has literally written the book on the history of North Carolina's hurricanes.

Thousands of the 20,000 people staying in more than 150 shelters this weekend and others waiting it out elsewhere won't be able to return to their homes for good any time soon.

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The guard has mobilized over 100 members and 35 shallow-water rescue boat teams.

"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".

Prisoners were affected, too. "It's not anywhere", North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said on Saturday. 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.

According to the U.S. National Weather Service, there are 5.25 million residents in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places under tropical storm warnings or watches.

Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.

In Fayetteville in North Carolina, officials warned people living by swollen rivers that the worst was yet to come. Now its maximum sustained winds are about 50mph (80km/h) and it's a tropical storm.

Outer Banks residents and businesses owners are reporting relatively minimal damage in the low-lying barrier islands.

Previous year the ASPCA responded to six disasters including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the wildfires in California, assisting more than 37,000 animals through pre-evacuation, field rescue, and post-disaster relief efforts.

As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

Cline said July was the wettest ever in that part of North Carolina, and the water table rose 21 inches higher than normal.

"We'll operate without power; we have candles. We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband. We chose to hunker down.


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