Tracking Florence: Rain, flooding threaten Carolinas as storm crawls inland

150 people trapped by Florence floodwaters in New Bern, NC

No. 2 Clemson and Georgia Southern got a sunny sky, mild breezes and plenty of tailgaters for the only major conference football game being played Saturday in the Carolinas and Virginia while Florence, now a tropical storm, dumped risky amounts of rain elsewhere across the region.

The center of the storm is over eastern SC, but rain is continuing to fall throughout the state and is particularly heavy in the southern counties. SC recorded its first death from the storm, with officials saying a 61-year-old woman was killed when her vehicle hit a tree that fell across a highway.

A family rescued from their New Jersey home by boat during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 is waiting to find out whether Florence took their new one in North Carolina. More than a dozen Superfund sites in the Houston metro area were flooded previous year during Hurricane Harvey, with breaches of potentially harmful materials reported at two.

Florence flattened trees, damaged buildings and crumpled roads.

Crews have conducted about 700 rescues in New Hanover County, where more than 60 percent of homes and businesses were without power, authorities said. A mother and her infant were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington.

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.

A severe inland flood threat is emerging as remnants of Florence pound the Carolinas with almost nonstop rain for a second day since the once major hurricane howled ashore.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said.

It was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina. It blew ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

On Friday, the sustained winds were recorded upto 70mph.

Parts of North and SC were forecast to get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter).

Florence will ultimately lose its tropical designation sometime Saturday, but the storm will continue be a danger as it starts to turn north by Sunday afternoon.

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is warning residents in the southwest part of the state to prepare for flooding and possible landslides early next week from the remnants of Florence.

For people living inland in the Carolinas, maximum peril could come days later as all that water drains, overflowing rivers and causing flash floods.

Authorities were preparing to release water from several dams, fearing constant rains could push reservoirs to dangerously high levels.

Florence was packing 120mph winds (193km/h) on Thursday but weakened from a Category 3 hurricane to Category 1 before it hit the coastline on Friday.

In order to prevent any looting or robberies, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office issued a curfew on Friday night.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches. Bragg - where officials opened emergency shelters and urged riverfront residents to evacuate.

Hundreds were rescued in New Bern, a city of 30,000 at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.

Fearless volunteers are seen defying the danger and continuing to rescue residents and their pets.

"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard ..."

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said radar and rain gauges indicated some areas got as much as 2½ feet of rain, which he called "absolutely staggering". Many of them are boat owners, who help rescue stricken flood victims.

"Honestly, I grew up in Wilmington".

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