"This storm is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days", Cooper said. "But I think we're ready".
Florence had been a Category-3 hurricane on Thursday but dropped to Category-1 before coming ashore.
"Some of the rainfall totals we're getting are already adding up to about 14 inches", NHC Director Ken Graham said shortly after 11 a.m. ET.
CORRECTING TYPO IN CITY NAME Leaves, branches and other debris surround and cover a vehicle during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018.
"It will be historic", Baker said of the rain from Florence.
Along the coast, floodwaters have been hitting inland towns near rivers that normally discharge into the ocean.
The storm known as Florence is creating a slow-motion natural disaster for the Carolinas that could prove deceptively lethal as swollen rivers and streams spill over their banks and continue to rise.
But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind. This is a 500- or 1,000-year event. On Wednesday, officials said some of those shelters were at capacity, but in a statement early Thursday, county officials said they were "able to mobilize additional resources to accommodate the need for shelter space". "Right now it's too early to say if anyone should be getting rid of their supplies just yet". "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other risky conditions", the hurricane center briefing said.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the tweet said.
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Columbia Gas also said it's working with officials to "investigate this incident in order to understand its cause". Officials were also shutting down power in the three towns, Massachusetts State Police said Thursday evening.
Jon Wright considers himself one of the lucky residents of Wilmington, N.C. - so far. Federal officials had said midweek they weren't concerned about that facility or five other nuclear plants in the storm's path, calling them "hardened".
Evacuation warnings were issued for 1.7 million people in the region. State Sen. Danny Britt, R, put out a call on Facebook for volunteers to fill the sandbags and, with the help of 40 members of the National Guard, dam a railway channel that has been problematic during floods.
There's still a threat from rising tides, Risty-Davis says.
At least four people have reportedly been killed.
"This is going to be a very trying period for the state", he said."We're liable to have flash floods, bridges and roads washed out".
By early afternoon, Florence's 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. At the city's airport, the wind was gusting at 91 miles per hour. But Florence, a Category 1 when it hit, already had pounded coastal areas for hours. Those conditions were expected to worsen significantly.
Florence is anticipated to move slowly over eastern South Carolina Friday night through Saturday night. At the same time, some areas can see up to 15 inches of rain, with a few places experiencing up to 30 inches. Water rescues were also underway, although it was hard to know how many had occurred. The flooding began on barrier islands in North Carolina and then spread into coastal and river communities there and in SC, swamping the white sands and golf courses in North Myrtle Beach.
"We're estimating we've rescued 150-200", New Bern Police Lt. David Daniels said early Friday morning.
As of 4 a.m., Florence was 30 miles (45 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
"Not only that, but the wind field actually expands as the center of circulation starts to lose some intensity, you'll start to get hurricane force winds further out from the storm". Its designation then was "potential tropical cyclone six".