Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 1 storm

Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 1 storm

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds across the state.

Florence diminished from hurricane strength as it came ashore on Friday, but the large storm's slow progress across the two states could leave much of the region under water in the coming days, according to forecasters.

Officials have warned the storm has the potential to kill "a lot of people" amid risks of "catastrophic" flooding.

On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air.

Duke Energy added it could take up to several weeks to fully restore power in areas left inaccessible due to flooding brought on by the storm.

Olivia is the first tropical cyclone to make landfall on Maui in modern history, National Weather Service forecasters said.

The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired nonprofit director.

Despite the hurricane losing wind intensity since its peak as a Category 4, it has grown substantially in overall size and its predicted deceleration in forward speed will take a costly toll.

President Donald Trump has said protecting lives is his "absolute highest priority" and that the White House is standing by to offer affected states whatever help they ask for.

Soren Rundquist, Environmental Working Group's director of spatial analysis, said if the rainfall projections hold up, the flood waters will simply take what was sprayed on the fields with them, along with what spills out of the pits.

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Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm - but the danger is far from over for residents of the U.S. East Coast.

The NHC warned the threat of tornadoes was increasing as Florence neared shore and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the heavy rain could trigger landslides in the west of his state. Federal emergency management officials warned that Florence - while weakening slightly - remains a "very unsafe storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the coast. Masters estimated that storm surge caused at least $3 billion in damage, compared with maybe $1 billion for wind damage. A mother and infant were killed when a tree fell on their house, WECT reported.

Vereen was taking that recommendation at face value - she and her children live in a mobile home in an open field, with nothing to protect it from the hurricane.

A third person, a woman, died in Hampstead, NC, in Pender County. Paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris. Cramer said the police chief informed him that as of this morning, the only people in sight were "two or three stragglers". The winds had been as high as 140 miles per hour earlier in the week.

People look out over the surf before Hurricane Florence comes ashore on Carolina Beach, North Carolina on September 13, 2018.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate and authorities urged them to get going before the streets become inundated.

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown are was under water by Friday afternoon. A town spokesman said between 60 and 75 people were awaiting rescue on Saturday.

Eudy said his family stayed in their home partly to protect their house.

Some local residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit early on Friday.

Holt, who has diabetes and clogged arteries, said she stayed for doctor's appointments that were canceled at the last minute.

Authorities in North Carolina said almost 814,000 customers were without power. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

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