Florence weakens but epic rains still expected on US east coast

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Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence September 14, 2018 in New Bern, United States.

Southern and central North Carolina into far northeast SC could see an additional 10 to 15 inches of rainfall, with "storm totals between 30 and 40 inches along the North Carolina coastal areas south of Cape Hatteras".

US President Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for North Carolina as officials warn the state could experience its most severe flooding ever.

In Lumberton, about 80 miles inland, Jackie and Quinton Washington watched water filling both their front and back yards near the Lumber River.

With flood waters advancing rapidly in many communities, stranded people were being rescued by boat and by helicopter, while tens of thousands of others hunkered down in shelters.

Boats are stacked up on each other in a marina as a result of the tropical Hurricane Florence
Boats are stacked up on each other in a marina as a result of the tropical Hurricane Florence

On Saturday, officials in SC confirmed the state's first fatality from Florence, bringing the region-wide death toll from the storm to at least 11 - though the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., was reporting at least 14 deaths.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Saturday announced the death of a 61-year-old woman who died when her vehicle hit a downed tree on a highway.

Some residents said they made a decision to stay because many emergency shelters don't accept pets.

"Our roads are flooded, there is no access into Wilmington", New Hanover County Commission Chairman Woody White told a news conference. "We want you home, but you can't come yet". Fresh evacuations were ordered further inland as rivers crested and spilled out of their banks.

Woody White, chairman of the board of commissioners of New Hanover County, said officials were planning for food and water to be flown into the coastal city of almost 120,000 people.

Hurricane Florence rips through Carolina coast
A state of emergency was declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia. North Carolina emergency management officials said more than 600,000 customers in North Carolina were without power.

Though the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm, it has caused and is continuing to cause damage and blackouts throughout the state of North Carolina.

The IRS said the policy will apply to people or businesses located within areas designated for individual assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

Gas stations were abandoned and fallen trees made many roads impassable.

The crews include 10 line workers, two digger trucks, bucket trucks and other equipment to help restore power. In Belville, just south of Leland, some shops had power restored on Sunday.

And as the rain is expected to continue, she says she has her generators, her family, and vehicle ready in case things get bad. "If not, we'd be stuck upstairs for the next. how long?" Five people were arrested for breaking into a Dollar General Store, said the police department in Wilmington, which has imposed a nighttime curfew.

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Storm Florence weakened on Sunday as it swept through the Carolinas but dozens of communities are devastated and "epic" amounts of rain could still fall, officials said. More than 30 inches were recorded in Swansboro, N.C. The previous record of 24 inches was set in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd pounded the region.

Florence is forecast to creep along eastern SC through Saturday, dumping lots of water and lashing the region with winds. The flooding could taint waterways with murky coal ash.

'We have 4,200 damaged homes, ' Mayor Dana Outlaw told CNN.

Life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and prolonged significant river flooding are possible in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and the southern to central Appalachias to western North Carolina to west-central Virginia and far-eastern West Virginia into early next week, the National Weather Service said.

Storm Florence will be reclassified again as a tropical depression as it continues through OH and New England by the middle of the week.

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