Florence 'unloading epic amounts of rainfall' in North Carolina

'Relentless rains' continue as Florence nearly stalls over Carolinas

Parts of southern North Carolina and northeastern SC could see another foot or more of rain over the weekend, according to National Weather Service.

The storm is still leaving a path of destruction across the two states, despite its top sustained wind speeds weakening to 72km/h. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 miles per hour, lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.

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.

Its winds were down to 45 miles per hour.

They have made clear that this event is all about the water - which the storm has delivered in devastating quantity.

U.S. east coast communities face "epic amounts of rainfall" from tropical storm Florence, which has been linked to at least 12 deaths.

More than 10 million people are under hurricane watches or warnings and 1.7 million have been ordered to evacuate the coast.

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.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters), enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

The National Weather Service says the worst flooding will likely start Saturday night or Sunday morning and will continue for several days.

The city of New Bern, North Carolina, reported more than 1,200 911 calls in a 12-hour span, and roughly 4,300 residences and 300 commercial buildings damaged. About 400 people have been rescued.

"Unfortunately, Duke Energy has spent years lobbying and litigating and still has not removed the coal ash from its unsafe riverfront pits in the coastal area, some of which are in the floodplain", said Frank Holleman, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center who has battled the company in court. More ppl now face a threat than when the storm was offshore.

"You see the water coming", he said. Duke Energy, the area's biggest utility company, said that figure could rise to three million and restoring power could take weeks. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.

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The centre of the slow-moving storm, downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane after it came ashore Friday afternoon, was almost stalled over SC early Saturday, about 55 kilometres west of Myrtle Beach, moving west-southwest at just 8 km/h and scooping massive amounts of moisture from the sea.

Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water.

Firefighters said the area had not been in the zone under evacuation orders.

President Donald Trump tweeted late Saturday that "five deaths have been recorded thus far, ' and expressed sympathy to the victims" families.

"It's not anywhere", North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said on Saturday. So it's 'time to go out and have a drink'.

"It's been done very efficiently and very well", he added, referencing the recovery efforts.

While Hurricane Florence has moved out of North Carolina, she is a slow-moving storm.

The center of the eye of the hurricane made landfall in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and was moving slowly westward just south of Wilmington.

"This is still a catastrophic, life threatening storm", said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Center's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power September 14 morning according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

Florence has already set a North Carolina record for rainfall totals, exceeding that of Hurricane Floyd, which struck in 1999 and caused 56 deaths.

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people in all were rescued in the town of 30,000 residents without any serious injuries or deaths. Dozens more were pulled from a collapsed motel.

Coast Guard helicopters were taking off across the street to rescue stranded people from rooftops and swamped cars.

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