Mother, infant are first two confirmed deaths from Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence Could Kill 'A Lot Of People' As It Batters US Coast

New Bern, the city on the North Carolina coast where the Neuse River and Trent River intersect, was reeling Friday after being inundated from flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.

Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.

Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm at 7:15 am (1115 GMT) in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the Carolina coast for days.

While Florence's winds won't be as intense as first feared, the storm could dump as much as 3 feet of rain and generate storm surges as high as 13 feet in coastal areas, the weather service said.

Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 700,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere near an end.

The Miami-based center had said earlier Friday Florence's arrival would come with "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over portions of the Carolinas.

Still, he said: "I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth".

"To those in the storm's path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place". "If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it".

Governor Cooper said there have been "several hundred" rescue operations and "there are still some people they need to get to".

Downed trees, branches on the hurricane-lashed streets of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

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Cooper said 126 shelters are open across the state, with more than 12,000 people already staying at them, as of Thursday evening. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.

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More than 2,700 people took refuge at shelters, according to Horry County Spokesperson Kelly Moore.

"Heavy rain has been occurring in and around Oriental, North Carolina, where 20.37 inches of rainfall has been measured thus far", the National Hurricane Center said in an update.

A fourth person reportedly was killed while plugging in a generator in the state's Lenoir County, according to U.S. media.

Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

In New Bern, Sarah Risty-Davis is one of the residents who opted not to follow a mandatory evacuation order that was issued three days ago.

Officials have warned that the life-threatening storm could come with maximum sustained wind speeds of 90mph and carries a risk of "catastrophic" flooding.

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 electricity went out.

Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.

"We've rescued over 100 people in New Bern, N.C.; people from Jacksonville, N.C., had to rescued from a hotel", Cooper said, describing efforts to save people in towns north of Wilmington where high floods have already hit.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but its unclear how many did. "This will cause extremely risky flooding", the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.

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