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According to Doll, many areas in North Carolina are seeing somewhere between 10 and 20 inches of rain.

None of the people rescued were injured.

With close to 90 of the state's 100 counties setting up their emergency management offices for this storm, all signs point to an even longer recovery from Florence.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence broke a North Carolina rainfall record that had stood for nearly 20 years: Preliminary reports showed Swansboro got over 30 inches and counting, eclipsing the mark set in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd dropped just over 24 inches on the state.

Police said 150 to 200 residents have been rescued earlier on Friday and 150 or more were still awaiting rescue.

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. Authorities expect the death toll to rise in the coming days.

Five people, including a mother and her baby, have been killed by Florence, which was initially categorised as a hurricane with 120mph winds.

The body of a 77-year-old man, also in Kinston, was found by his family at his home, and it is believed he died when he was blown down after going outside to check on his hunting dogs, Dail said. In Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack.

"This is a hurricane event followed by a flood event", said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

Florence lumbers inland, leaving five dead, communities flooded
In Wilmington, near where the eye of the hurricane touched down, trees and power lines were felled and many windows were broken. The father was injured in the incident and was transported to a hospital, officials said.

But the wind is not the main threat to people and property from the storm; it's thestorm surgeandrainfall, which combined have caused serious flooding in the low-lying coastal regions of the Carolinas.

"We continue to assess conditions in the central and southeast portion of the state to identify opportunities to safely increase operations in those areas as well", Capt. Bion Stewart, leader of the Coast Guard's response to Hurricane Florence in North Carolina, said in a statement. "We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns". It's the most powerful storm of 2018 so far.

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz REFILE - CORRECTING GRAMMAR AND TYPO IN CITY NAME People are rescued by members of the U.S. Army during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018.

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

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons (36 trillion litres), enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimetres). That, and the storm's vast circumference of hundreds of miles, means Wilmington will be inundated with rain, the advisory said.

Morehead City, North Carolina, had received 23 inches of rain by Friday night, and forecasters warned on Saturday morning that parts of the Carolinas could get up to 15 inches more.

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.

With the center of the storm still at sea early Friday, scores of residents had to be rescued from homes and the tops of cars in New Bern, North Carolina.

Almost 3,000 people died in the aftermath of the storm, according to an estimate from researchers at Georgetown University that was adopted by the Puerto Rican government as the official death toll for the storm. Nicholas Digregorio and his wife Danielle are stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.


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