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The Charlotte area is expected to see heavy rain and 30-40 miles per hour winds in the coming days, which could cause power outages and flooding in certain areas. When Hurricane Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell - and combined with high tide, made for unsafe flooding and dramatic rescues.

As 400-mile-wide Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach more than 360 people besieged by rising waters in New Bern, while many of their neighbors awaited help. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

While the storm's strength was lowered from Category 4 to Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the storm was actually strengthening. The maximum wind speed may reach over 150 kmph at the time of landfall as well.

Hours before the storm made landfall Friday, workers at New Bern's WCTI-TV NewsChannel 12 had to abandon their studio.

The NHC reported that "catastrophic freshwater flooding" is expected over portions of the Carolinas with "life-threatening" storm surge and hurricane-force winds.

The storm surge caused by Hurricane Florence could cause "catastrophic" flooding for parts of North and SC, despite the storm being downgraded as it neared land.

In North Carolina, Florence is expected to dump up to 40 inches of rain and storm surge will be high.

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days".

According to fuel-station finding app GasBuddy, about 52 percent of stations Thursday in Wilmington, North Carolina were out of gas.

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Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were already inundated with water.

"Florence is an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper told NPR's Morning Edition.

Hurricane Florence is a real, ongoing threat. On that score, American capitalism has already shown its inability to address basic social needs. Tens of thousands in Texas have entered a new hurricane season while still displaced from their homes.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared previous year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath. Moreover, the Carolinas have not seen such a storm since the 1980s.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders held out hope of being rescued.

As the storm moves inland it is expected to significantly weaken starting later today throughout the weekend.

The most abject declaration of irresponsibility came from President Trump, who chose to treat the impending disaster in the Carolinas as an opportunity to deliver nasty tweets rather than federal assistance.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths.

The hurricane also exposed the unpreparedness and incompetence of the huge corporations that monopolize electricity distribution.

Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC...an additional 20 to 25 inches, with isolated storm totals of 30 to 40 inches. "This is no ordinary storm, and people could be without power for a very long time", he declared. "We won't even be able to get to some areas for several days".