FEMA update on Hurricane Florence

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A friend later tweeted that the woman and her family had been rescued.

By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakened to 70 mph as it moved forward at 3 mph about 15 miles north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

"There's already water (in the) bottom part of people's houses", said Todd Willis, who lives in Kennel Beach, North Carolina, on Thursday night.

Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC...an additional 20 to 25 inches, with isolated storm totals of 30 to 40 inches.

The Navy says nearly 30 Virginia-based ships and 128 aircraft sent away from their bases in the Hampton Roads-area because of now-Tropical Storm Florence have been given the go-ahead to return.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of the state in several feet of water. It is moving to the west-northwest at 6 miles per hour.

The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.

Near the beach in Wilmington, a Waffle House restaurant, part of a chain with a reputation for staying open during disasters, had no plans to close, even if power was lost, and there were lines to get in on Thursday evening.

Florence is one of three named storms in the Atlantic.

Hurricane Florence is dumping rain on North Carolina and pushing a storm surge taller than most humans onto communities near the coast.

A weather station at a community college recorded a 100 miles per hour wind gust, and forecasters tweeted that a 91 miles per hour wind gust slammed into Wilmington's airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago.

About 6.6 feet of inundation was reported by a US Geological Survey gauge in Emerald Isle.

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Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas. Roy Cooper said Friday that Florence is "wreaking havoc" and he's concerned "whole communities" could be wiped away.

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Colleen Roberts, public information officer for the city of about 30,000 residents, told Fox News that 200 people had been rescued so far as the Category 1 storm battered the area with strong winds and a life-threatening surge.

It has trapped people in flooded homes as citizen swift-water rescue teams from out of state join local emergency professionals around the clock to try and bring them to safety.

Four shelters were now open, Roberts said, adding that dispatchers received a call for 17 people stranded all on one street.

Waves almost 30ft high were record off the carolina coast as Florence churned toward shore.

US power companies said more than 974,000 homes and businesses, mostly in North Carolina and SC, were without power on Saturday after Florence hit the Southeast coast. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.

At least 321,000 people were without power in North Carolina with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to the state's emergency management agency. Forecasters said the torrents could continue for days, touching off disastrous flooding.

A North Carolina city situated between two rivers says it has around 150 people waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters from Hurricane Florence. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.

Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were already inundated with water.

Rivers are rising on the north side of Hurricane Florence as the storm swirls counter-clockwise, pushing a surge of ocean water far in from the coast.

Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm late Thursday, and now contains maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour with higher gusts.

Weather Forecasters have said that the size of the storm means it will batter the East Coast for a full day.