Days of flooding ahead in the Carolinas as Florence leaves at least 6 dead

(CNN) – Tropical Storm Florence’s relentless rain is flooding parts of the Carolinas and promises even more for days, officials said Saturday, a day after it landed as a hurricane and left at least six people dead — including a baby.

“The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it … made landfall 24 hours ago,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday morning. “We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns.”
The storm’s center is crawling over South Carolina, but many of its main rain bands still are over already-saturated North Carolina — setting up what may be days of flooding for some communities.
Serious flooding is expected throughout the two states — and some rivers may not crest for another three to five days.
Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 964,000 customers in that state and South Carolina.
It has trapped people in flooded homes as citizen swift-water rescue teams from out of state join local emergency professionals around the clock to try and bring them to safety.

Key developments

• Florence’s location: By 2 p.m. Saturday, Florence’s center was 50 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. It was moving west at 3 mph, the National Weather Service said. The storm will dump rain in the Carolinas through the weekend before reaching the Ohio Valley.
• Winds: Florence’s tropical-storm-force winds (at least 39 mph) extend up to 150 miles from its center.
• No electricity: About 809,000 customers are without power in North Carolina, emergency officials said. In South Carolina, 155,000 customers are without power, officials said.
• Trapped and rescued: In hard-hit New Bern, North Carolina, where 4,300 homes have been damaged, rescuers have taken more than 400 people from homes surrounded by rising waters, and about 100 others are awaiting rescue, Mayor Dana Outlaw said Saturday morning. In nearby Onslow County, three US Coast Guard helicopters were helping with rescue missions Saturday, officials said.
• Much flooding to come: By storm’s end, up to 40 inches of rain will have fallen in parts of North Carolina and far northeastern South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said. Some other parts of South Carolina could see rainfall totals of up to 15 inches, forecasters said. Florence “will produce catastrophic flooding over parts of North and South Carolina for some time,” NOAA official Steve Goldstein said.
• Record rainfall: Florence has dumped more than 30 inches of rain in Swansboro, North Carolina, as of Saturday morning, breaking an all-time record for rainfall from a tropical system in the state. The previous record of 24.06 inches was set during Hurricane Floyd in 1999.


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