Mother, infant are first two confirmed deaths from Hurricane Florence

Volunteer Amber Hersel from the Civilian Crisis Response Team helps rescue 7-year-old Keiyana Cromartie and her family from their flooded home

Flash flooding is going to be a big issue soon - certainly catastrophic.

More than 722,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said. The company said that, in advance of the storm, it has shipped 1,000 truckloads of water, over 60,000 cases of batteries and 33 truckloads of personal generators. "But I think we're ready".

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm. Hurricane-force winds were extending out up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 195 miles, the center said.

Hurricane Florence on the eastern coast of the United States.

Winds bent trees towards the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power.

"The water kept rising and kept rising", he said.

More than 1.7 million people in Virginia, North and SC were told to evacuate ahead of Florence's arrival.

People survey the damage on Front Street in downtown New Bern, North Carolina.

The No. 1 mission right now, Cooper said, is to save lives.

The downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was underwater and around 150 people were waiting to be rescued, city authorities said on Twitter.

Cooper said 108 shelters are open across the state, with more than 7,000 people already staying at them, as of Thursday afternoon.

In New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.

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A new 5-minute video from the space station shows Florence coming ashore in the USA for the first time.

"We had pretty high floodwaters up until the early morning hours", Risty-Davis tells NPR's Morning Edition.

Video reports from several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through rippling thigh-high floodwaters in residential neighborhoods. The center of the storm is expected to make landfall near Wilmington between 8 a.m. and noon. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces".

A wind gust at the Wilmington airport was clocked at almost 170km/h, the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958. At the city's airport, the wind was gusting at 91 miles per hour.

The storm was about 35 miles east of Wilmington, N.C., and about 50 miles southwest of Morehead City, N.C., the National Hurricane Center's 2 a.m. EDT Friday advisory said.

Blowing ashore with howling 90 miles per hour winds, Hurricane Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster. Significant weakening was expected over the weekend.

In southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC up to 40 inches of rain could fall, producing "catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", said the NHC.

It was set to inundate nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, State Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, while National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted up to eight months of rain in two or three days. The coming storm surges and heavy rains will cause severe flooding that may submerge parts of the Carolinas in up to 40 inches of rain.

At the Walmart Emergency Operations Center (EOC), representatives from across the retailer's business have been working to help its facilities, associates and customers prepare for and respond to Florence. Thousands of soldiers from their National Guard forces have been mobilized.

"It has moved in", said Jordan Baker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Wilmington. The fear is that during that slow march west, it'll drop torrential rains, flooding low-lying areas and overwhelming rivers.

A mother and infant in North Carolina were among the first reported fatalities linked to Hurricane Florence.

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