A.M. Update: Prolonged rain will bring floods

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As of Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center announced that Florence is now a tropical storm with maximum wind speeds of 45 miles per hour and said heavy rains and catastrophic flooding will continue across portions of North and SC.

The storm roared ashore under the cover of darkness, pummeling the region with pounding rain, widespread flooding and catastrophic winds.

Florence is 350 miles (560 km) wide and has travelled 4,000 miles across the ocean from west Africa.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the storm was posing an even greater risk of flooding than when it first made landfall.

Three died in one inland county, Duplin, because of water on roads and flash floods, authorities said.

Zooming out to the full projection, shown above, the core of the storm is slated to enter North Carolina around 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. "Dangerous storm surge could also affect portions of the northeast coast of SC coast today".

Almost 814,000 homes in North Carolina and 170,000 in SC are without power.

A pet dog licked Johan Mackie's face after he helped rescue Kevin Knox's family from their flooded brick home.

Florence has weakened to a tropical depression but "major river flooding will continue over a significant portion of the Carolinas", the U.S. National Hurricane Service said Sunday. North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had about 7 inches.

The Wilmington region could see "storm totals between 30 and 40 inches along the North Carolina coastal areas south of Cape Hatteras".

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"If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible", Mayor Mitch Colvin said at a news conference.

USA media say 12 people have died as a result of the storm.

In New Bern, North Carolina, the National Weather Service said there was 10ft of water.

He said that on Saturday morning, the floodwaters around his home had dropped, leaving a multitude of trees and other debris in their wake. Electricity remained out for much of the city, known for its historic mansions, with power lines lying across roads like wet strands of spaghetti.

The Wilmington Police Department said the two were killed when a tree fell on their house.

The National Hurricane Center said as much as 40in (102cm) was expected on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC.

It has already claimed five victims, with a mother and her baby crushed by a tree in North Carolina. NEW BERN OVERWHELMEDIn New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge "overwhelmed" the town, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit.

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

"The cost to SC, if that happens, if the storm continues the way it is going, could be in the billions", Dahler said.

New Bern resident Dan Eudy said he and his brother were awakened on Thursday night by the sound of a boat ramming against his front porch.

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