Tropical Storm Florence crawls inland as it batters North and SC

Rows of sandbags surround a home on North Topsail Beach North Carolina in preparation of Hurricane Florence. More than a

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons (68 trillion liters) of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm as it moved further inland in the days ahead.

McMaster had ordered residents in most of the state's coastal counties to evacuate ahead of Florence's arrival. The storm is expected to lumber into far southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC through Saturday, punishing the area with rain and damaging winds.

Horry County officials told The Sun News that emergency personnel are still responding to calls and never stopped.

The total extent of devastation from Florence, which has turned from a hurricane into a tropical storm, remains unknown as rain and flooding continue to wreak havoc in the Carolinas.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, Florence was inching west at 3 mph (6 kph), with its center located about 50 miles (85 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In a separate briefing, Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said some areas have already received two feet of rain and could expect up to 20 inches more as the system moved "slowly, almost stationary" over eastern North Carolina.

Two people also died in Harkers Island, North Carolina, on Friday, Carteret County Director of Emergency Services Stephen Rea said Saturday.

CORRECTING TYPO IN CITY NAME Vechicles are seen as members of the U.S. Army rescue people during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018.

On its Facebook page, the county said the evacuation was in effect along the Lower Little River near the Cumberland County line. He was blown down at 8 a.m.at his home on Middle Street. Officials said flood waters from other areas are accumulating north of the county and filling the river basins beyond their capacities.

The previous record crest was 29 feet set during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

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In the latest information from the National Hurricane Center , Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 event. In a 2 p.m. advisory, forecasters said sustained winds remained at 60 miles per hour , down from 75 miles per hour Monday.

Although it has been downgraded to a tropical storm, slow-moving Florence is already blasting North and SC with torrential rain and severe floods. It further provides assistance to individuals for rent payments for emergency lodging, home repairs, payments to cover unemployment caused by the storm and other assistance, the release said.

Money also is available to the state, some local governments, and some private nonprofit groups on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in those counties.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday, but warned that life-threatening storm surges - in which water is pushed by a storm over land that would normally be dry - catastrophic freshwater flooding were still expected.

The National Hurricane Center said as much as 40in (102cm) was expected on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC. Maximum sustained winds remained at 50 miles per hour (80 kph). Storm totals could reach between 30 and 40 inches in some areas.

Whilst gradual weakening of wind speed is expected this weekend, torrential rainfall will continue.

Five people, including a mother and her baby, have been killed by Florence, which was initially categorised as a hurricane with 120mph winds.

The deadly Tropical Storm Florence is so ferocious, it's uprooting everything, even tightly-bolted historic statues.

George Pace returned to his neighborhood and saw his home for the first time, expecting the worst, but discovering only minimal damage. Hurricane force winds were being felt in an 80-mile radius from the center of the storm.

"The cost to SC, if that happens, if the storm continues the way it is going, could be in the billions", Dahler said. Rescue crews have used boats to reach hundreds of people trapped by the rising waters.

Jacob Fernandez (left) and Josh Fernandez play around on the tree that fell near their home as Hurricane Florence passed through the area on Friday in Bolivia, N.C.

Water rescues were continuing on Saturday.

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