NEW BERN, North Carolina - The City of New Bern tweeted early Friday that 150 people were in need of being rescued as Hurricane Florence made landfall in the coastal town. Despite the downgrade from Category 4 to Category 2, authorities warned that Florence has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land.
"It can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland through the weekend", the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. update. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind does.
Folks in Charleston, South Carolina, who have chosen not to evacuate, are preparing for a nasty storm that could make landfall right in their backyard.
The storm is already causing power outages, with Duke Energy reporting almost 240,000 customers have lost power in North and SC - but projects 1 to 3 million people could lose power.
Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.
Early on Friday, the downtown area of the city of New Bern, on the Trent and Neuse rivers near the North Carolina coast, was underwater as emergency crews conducted several rescues, according to reports on social media.
At the North Carolina Zoo, workers this week were trying to figure out what to do with 1,600 animals. The ISS is now orbiting at an altitude of about 400 km above the surface of the Earth meaning it has an incredible view of Hurricane Florence as it rages. It could then head west and southwest.More news: FDA Vows to Battle Teen E-Cig Use
Staff at the 500-acre zoo near Asheboro rushed Wednesday to move elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees and hundreds of other species indoors to protect them from the storm's predicted formidable winds and torrential rain.
More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. Isolated areas could get 40 inches.
An estimated 20-30 inches of rainfall is projected for coastal North Carolina and northeastern SC - with up to forty inches in isolated areas.
Tens of thousands are without power in North Carolina.
The city assured those who were trapped that help was on the way. "We're going to take you now to the coverage from our sister station in Myrtle Beach".
Dresner said there was also a brief tornado warning Thursday night. Do not try to walk or drive your auto through them.
In addition, the home rental company AirBnb activated its emergency "Open Homes" program this week for owners wanting to volunteer their houses to evacuees, and program membership doubled from 250 to more than 500 from Wednesday to Thursday.
In Myrtle Beach, ABC correspondent Pete Combs painted a starker picture of those who chose to stay in place.More news: Trump denies 3,000 Puerto Ricans died due to Hurricane Maria, blames Democrats
"They refuse to evacuate", said Combs of a friend who lives a mile out from the beach. "They have boarded up a couple of windows".
"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", he said.
None of the people rescued were injured.
Severe inland flooding is also forecast for the Palmetto State, which is expected to see Florence drift through its Pee Dee, Midlands and Upstate regions on Saturday and Sunday. She adds: "You have wind, high water, rushing water, downed trees and downed power lines - not to mention it's dark out".
"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam reminded residents to stay off the roads and shelter in place.
"We're not the Grand Hyatt, but it's an option for people", said Mr. Brady, who thanked everyone for the comments on his post, which has been viewed nearly 1 million times. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.More news: Saudi, Iranian envoys call on Nawaz Sharif, condole demise of Begum Kulsoom