6 dead as Florence leaves heavy flooding in Carolinas

6 dead as Florence leaves heavy flooding in Carolinas

Evacuation orders have been lifted in several coastal SC counties as Florence continues to dump rain on the state.

Authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of up to 7,500 people living within a mile of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Little River.

Still, some residents ignored calls to evacuate. The slow-moving storm is still dumping colossal amounts of rain on North Carolina and parts of northern SC.

Evacuation zones in Horry and Georgetown counties remain under the order.

Hurricane-force winds extended 130km from its centre, and tropical storm-force winds reached out to 315km.

By Friday night the center of the storm had moved to eastern SC, about 15 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

The National Hurricane Center says a sustained wind of 55 miles per hour (89 kph) and a gust to 68 miles per hour (109 kph) were reported in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

At a briefing, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the risk of fatality will only grow when people venture out once the winds die down.

By Saturday afternoon, Swansboro, North Carolina had recorded over 30 inches of rain - and at least another foot was in the forecast. That is roughly double the rainfall from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, he said.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm would move further inland across extreme southeastern North Carolina and extreme eastern SC on Friday and Saturday. 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.

4 dead as Hurricane Florence unleashes fury in Carolinas
A state of emergency was declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia. The town of Oriental, North Carolina, got more than 18 inches of rain in just a few hours, while Surf City had 14 inches.

The declaration also provides assistance to local governments for cleanup efforts following the storm, including building repairs.

With the eye of Florence stalled near the coast, the half of the storm still out over the Atlantic continued to collect warm ocean water and dump it on land.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and into the northeastern coast of SC in spots. Maximum sustained winds remained at 50 miles per hour (80 kph).

"And we're not done yet", Graham said, adding that some hard-hit areas could get an additional 15 to 20 inches because the storm was moving so slowly. Storm totals could reach between 30 and 40 inches in some areas.

North Carolina has been issued with flash flood emergencies, with relief from storm conditions not looking likely until early next week.

"A big worry about Hurricane Florence is that it's not acting like a normal hurricane", said Al Jazeera's Andy Gallacher, reporting from Wilmington, North Carolina. Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

Florence's fatality count rose to seven on September 15, as the storm continued hammering the Carolinas and surrounding states.

George Pace returned to his neighborhood and saw his home for the first time, expecting the worst, but discovering only minimal damage. The storm is some 400 miles (645 kilometers) wide.

"Doppler radar was showing a band of heavy rain developing off the North and South Carolina Coasts".

With flood waters rising rapidly in many communities, stranded people were being rescued by boat and by helicopter, while tens of thousands of others hunkered down in shelters. Although the storm is passing north of Myrtle Beach, the concern now is that river water from North Carolina will flow into the area and combine with all the water that is already there. In perspective, Florence could drop up to eight months of rain in two or three days.

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