Hurricane Florence kills at least three people

Hurricane Florence trudging across the Carolinas submerging homes with days more rain in store

The hurricane has been moving at only 3-6 miles per hour as it drops torrential rains.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7.15 am (9.15pm AEST) at Wrightsville Beach, a few kilometres east of Wilmington, as the centre of its eye moved onshore, the National Hurricane Centre said.

"Just because the storm is gone, it doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet", he said. "But I think we're ready".

Top winds were holding at 90 miles per hour - that's just a Category 1 hurricane - but some communities were already submerged in more than six feet of water as the storm drenched the coast.

The new analysis accounts for damages from both wind and storm surge, but does not include insured losses related to rainfall, riverine or other flooding since the full rainfall footprint is an element in factoring total losses, the firm said.

- The number of North Carolina residents without power is now more than 480,000, according to North Carolina Emergency Management.

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.

Water was rising Saturday morning in a flood plain near the Waccamaw River, lapping up against homes and pooling over at least one main road. As Cooper said, "There's nowhere for the water to go". Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.

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

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"We've got nearly 20,000 people in 157 shelters", Cooper said.

The city of New Bern, North Carolina has promised help is on its way to 150 individuals trapped by Hurricane Florence's inundation of the small town. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles.

Morehead City resident Rebecca Marson decided not to evacuate because her surgeon husband wanted to remain behind with other first responders. Six sheriff's officers came to his house to rescue him Friday morning, but he didn't need to leave since the water was dropping by then.

There's still a threat from rising tides, Risty-Davis says. "We knew it was coming", New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw said.

The storm is now producing 90-mile-per-hour winds sustained with strong gusts possible. At the city's airport, the wind was gusting at 91 miles per hour.

For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit the FOX 46 Resource Center. In its 7 a.m. ET update, the National Hurricane Center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently recorded 6.1 feet above normal water levels.

But weather officials have cautioned that Florence's promise of heavy rains - and the flash flooding and prolonged flooding it will cause - likely will be the storm's most risky impact, especially since the storm surges will block the usual flow of water back to the ocean.

Up to 40 inches could drench the worst affected areas, the NHC said.

"The longer you have this hurricane wind flow, the longer you push that water well inland", he said. And it's rolling in from the ocean as storm surge. Thousands of soldiers from their National Guard forces have been mobilized. A turn toward the west at a slow forward speed is expected today, followed by a slow west-southwestward motion tonight and Saturday. The fear is that during that slow march west, it'll drop torrential rains, flooding low-lying areas and overwhelming rivers.

Daniels said there are no reports of injuries at this time and recommends people get out if they're able to safely do so but warned against driving in standing water.

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