5 dead in Hurricane Florence, including mom and infant

Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach South Carolina early Friday

The hurricane officially hit the East Coast around 7:40 a.m. ET as a Category 1 storm.

Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes.

The eyewall was onshore at the North Carolina coast as of 6am AST (11am BST), with landfall having now occurred. The storm is expected to lumber into far southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC through Saturday, punishing the area with rain and damaging winds.

"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", he said. It was crawling west at 5 miles per hour (7 kph).

By Friday morning, the North Carolina coastal town of Atlantic Beach had already received 30in (76cm) of rain, the US Geological Service said.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 170 miles, the hurricane center said.

North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper, delivered a message to his state this morning.

State and local officials have been warning residents the danger has not subsided as the Carolinas face what is expected to be historic flooding across the region.

The National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service is predicting "Major Flooding", its most severe classification, from south of the Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, to as as far south as the Waccamaw River near Myrtle Beach, SC.


Helene was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Thursday.

In New Bern, Sarah Risty-Davis is one of the residents who opted not to follow a mandatory evacuation order that was issued three days ago.

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

While forecasters have been keeping a close eye on the storm from the ground, the International Space Station watched the slow-moving hurricane make landfall from above.

"Rescue workers are working in unsafe conditions that will only get worse today", said Cooper, who called the storm a "1,000-year rain event" for parts of southeastern North Carolina. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces".

Saturday night, state and county officials confirmed more deaths, including three people in Duplin County, who died in floodwaters. The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958, the weather service said. It will likely weaken more on Friday, with "rapid weakening forecast over the weekend", the hurricane center said.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

Many thousand more power customers were without electricity in northeastern South Carolina Friday night.

A fatal collision on Saturday morning left two injured and one dead in Georgetown County, SC.

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