'Relentless rains' continue as Florence almost stalls over Carolinas

Blanche Robertson
September 16, 2018

Here is the newest information on Tropical Storm Florence.

Evacuation orders have been lifted in several coastal SC counties as Florence continues to dump rain on the state.

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

McMaster had ordered residents in most of the state's coastal counties to evacuate ahead of Florence's arrival.

More than 300 volunteers from nine USA states have joined the relief effort in North Carolina, according to ABC News.

Evacuation orders remain in place for Horry and Georgetown counties along South Carolina's northern coast.

Storm Florence may have weakened but the full extent of the damage it has wreaked may not become clear for days.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence's top sustained winds have weakened to 45 miles per hour (75 kph).

By Friday evening, the center of the storm had moved to eastern SC, about 15 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

The Piedmont Triad has been on high alert since Hurricane Florence, now a tropical storm, made landfall on the North Carolina coast Friday morning.

In Lenoir County a 78-year-old man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords and another man died after being blown away by high winds while checking on his dogs.

Stream gauges across the region showed water levels rising steadily, with forecasts calling for rivers to crest Sunday and Monday at or near record levels. Flood stage is 18 feet.

Carolina coast braces for 'Mike Tyson punch' from hurricane
Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week. And the storm surge, which could be as much as 12 feet in some areas, will be on top of sea level rise from climate change.

As Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a tropical storm, continued to chart a path of destruction across North and SC on Saturday, school gymnasiums morphed into makeshift shelters for thousands of people displaced from their homes in nearby flood-prone areas.

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Along the Lumber River in Lumberton, workers used heavy machinery to dump extra sand on a railbed prone to flooding.

The National Hurricane Center described Florence's path as a wobble around southeastern North Carolina. Now its maximum sustained winds are about 50mph (80km/h) and it's a tropical storm.

The deadly storm made landfall on the east coast of the USA on Friday bringing with it "biblical" flooding on what's been described as a "thousand-year rain event".

Water could reach as high as 5ft in some areas. These rains are expected to produce "prolonged, significant river flooding".

Morehead City, North Carolina, had received 23 inches (58 centimeters) of rain by Friday night, and forecasters warned Saturday morning that parts of the Carolinas could get up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) more.

At 5 a.m., the center was all but parked over SC, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, moving west-southwest at just 5 mph (8 kph) and scooping massive amounts of moisture from the sea.

Rain ranging from one to three and a half feet has already fallen, and it's not over. But the storm was shaping up as a two-part disaster, with the second, delayed-action stage consisting of epic inland flooding, caused by rainwater working its way into rivers and streams.

NEW BERN OVERWHELMEDIn New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge "overwhelmed" the town, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said. The storm is some 400 miles (645 kilometers) wide.

One of those was the Waccamaw River in South Carolina's Horry County, which had reached 8.9 feet by Saturday; it floods at 11 feet.

Besides federal and state emergency crews, rescuers were being helped by volunteers from the "Cajun Navy" - civilians equipped with light boats, canoes and air mattresses - who also turned up in Houston during Hurricane Harvey to carry out water rescues. It came ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

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