FEMA gives update on Hurricane Florence

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Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas early Friday with howling winds, life-threatening storm surges and torrential rains as it edged closer to the coast in what officials warned is a "once in a lifetime" event.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to around 144 km/h by nightfall. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.

Hurricane Florence is a real, ongoing threat.

There were no immediate reports of any deaths.

"It can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland through the weekend", the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. update.

Hurricane Florence hit the south-east coast of the U.S. last night with winds of up to 90mph and a storm surge of 10 feet.

The Miami-based center says Florence is bringing "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas.

"It's a real interesting piece of nature to have the eye of the storm be right in the midst of all the chaos we saw, and now we've got this break", Flock said.

Michael Nelson floats in a boat made from a metal tub and fishing floats after the Neuse River went over its banks and flooded his street during Hurricane Florence September 13, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina. "Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km)". Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 90 centimetres of rain, touching off severe flooding.

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What also makes Florence extremely unsafe are the deadly storm surges, mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall expected far inland.

Trees can be seen bending as the 59mph winds make themselves known, and residents are being urged to take refuge in the second storeys of their homes. "Nothing's hit the house yet, but it's still blowing". Firefighters and police fought wind and rain going door-to-door to pull people out after the cinderblock structure began to crumble and the roof began to collapse.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Florence was 750km south-southeast of Bermuda and the centre of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas yesterday, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

The National Weather Service shared images of Union Point on the shore at New Bern before and after the storm surge hit.

Airlines have cancelled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns across the Carolinas are largely empty after 1.7 million people in three states were told to clear out.

More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire. More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved out of the storm's path.

- Hurricane Florence remains a Category 2 storm as it makes its approaches to the Carolinas.

Rainfall will be one of the most destructive elements of hurricane Florence, with heavy rain triggering unsafe flash floods and potential landslides.

He said electric power could be out for weeks. We've got a long way to go in that culture of preparedness I keep talking about and helping people understand what their risks are, how to mitigate their situation, and just really trying to communicate this is why we ask you to leave.

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