FEMA update on Hurricane Florence

A North Myrtle Beach Police officer warns a beachgoer about the dangers of remaining on the beach as Hurricane Florence moves closer and conditions worsen in North Myrtle Beach South Carolina

A North Myrtle Beach Police officer warns a beachgoer about the dangers of remaining on the beach as Hurricane Florence moves closer and conditions worsen in North Myrtle Beach South Carolina

"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said. Ballance called the rainfall "biblical", saying he's gotten reports from friends that his downtown seafood restaurant was flooded, just like the rest of the small city's historic downtown, and he's anxious about the hundreds of people who needed to be rescued overnight in the city.

About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians have been deployed, with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats. The Army Corps of Engineers were preparing to start work restoring power, installing temporary roofing and removing debris.

"We are not turning away that help", she said.

More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury. Pieces of ripped-apart buildings flew through the air.

The hurricane has been moving at only 3-6 miles per hour as it drops torrential rains.

As Hurricane Florence pounds the North Carolina coast with 90-mph winds and relentless rain, more than 100 people have been plucked from a storm surge that's already reached 10 feet, as dozens more await rescue.

The storm is expected to bring catastrophic flooding to the Carolinas and bring more than 20 inches of rain, including 40 inches in some part. But forecasters said its extreme size meant it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day.

Hurricane Florence is weakened and slower moving than in recent days and is prepared to make a landfall at some point today.

By early afternoon, its winds had weakened to 75 miles per hour, just barely a hurricane and well below the storm's terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday, but warned it would dump as much as 76 to 102cm of rain on the south-eastern coast of North Carolina and part of north-eastern SC.

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Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.

"We moved all the furniture up in case the water comes in but the water seems to be staying at the edge of the driveway", he said, adding that if the wind picks up and the rain keeps coming, that could change. "Nothing's hit the house yet, but it's still blowing".

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.

Farther up the coast, in New Bern, about 150 people waited to be rescued from floods on the Neuse River, WXII-TV reported. The city said two FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more were on the way.

The storm is expected to turn west and then north moving through the Carolinas and the Ohio Valley by Monday, the NHC said early on Saturday.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as Florence began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

More than 1 million people had been ordered to evacuate before the streets became inundated. More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved out of the storm's path.

Hurricane Florence has caused significant damage to at least one building in downtown New Bern. The storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

The flooding soon spread into SC, swamping places like North Myrtle Beach, in a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.

"You can't get over till we have power and we have sewer up and running", said the retired teacher and real estate agent, who rode out the hurricane in an inland hotel.

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