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Heavy rain, wind gusts and rising floodwater from Florence swamped the Carolinas as the massive storm crawled toward the coast, threatening millions of people in its path with record rainfall and punishing surf.

A mother and infant in North Carolina are dead after a tree fell on their home - the first two fatalities of Hurricane Florence. The child's father was taken to a hospital. Another woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris. The power company has warned that up to 3 million people could be left without power for an extended period of time following Hurricane Florence.

Governor Cooper said there have been "several hundred" rescue operations and "there are still some people they need to get to".

As the Category 1 hurricane bore down on the Carolinas on Thursday, WCTI meteorologists Donnie Cox and Shane Hinton continued to oversee coverage of the storm for the city of New Bern.

By late afternoon, the centre of the storm was about 25 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

More than 722,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Carolinas early on Friday, utility officials said.

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.

Ocean City Prepares for Impacts of Hurricane Florence
A tropical wave in the Gulf of Mexico is still being monitored, but its chance of development in the coming days has decreased. The centre of Isaac passed between Martinique and Dominica with maximum sustained winds of about 45 miles per hour .

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. "If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it".

"Watch out, America! Hurricane Florence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the Space Station", European astronaut Alexander Gerst wrote in a tweet.

On the forecast track, Isaac should move farther away from Lesser Antilles today, and then move across the eastern and central Caribbean Sea through the weekend.

"Some say North Carolina is getting a break, but we are on the wrong side of this story", he said.

The storm surge, water pushed by a storm over land that would normally be dry, "overwhelmed" the town of New Bern at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said. "I'm going to get killed on the road, '" Bradley said.

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull dozens of people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.


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