LIVE UPDATES: Florence barely crawling across South Carolina

Authorities say overall death toll rises to 17

WILMINGTON, N.C. - Here's the latest on Tropical Storm Florence.

7:05 p.m.

The death toll from Hurricane Florence and its remnants has risen to 17 as officials say a 3-month-old died in North Carolina when a tree landed on a mobile home.

Gaston County manager Earl Mathers said in an email to commissioners the tree fell on a mobile home Sunday in Dallas, about 240 miles (386 kilometers) west of where Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday in Wrightsville Beach.

County spokesman James McConnell confirmed to The Associated Press that officials believe the tree fell because of the rain and wind from the storm's remnants.

7:05 p.m.

Flash flood watches have been posted in parts of southern West Virginia as the remnants of Hurricane Florence fall on saturated ground.

The National Weather Service has issued the watch through Monday evening in Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe and Summers counties.

The weather service says 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain are expected in the watch area with 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) or more possible in parts of the Greenbrier Valley.

A flood warning has been posted in Virginia along the New River, which flows north into West Virginia.

In June 2016, 9 inches of rain fell in 36 hours in parts of West Virginia, leaving 23 dead statewide and destroying thousands of homes, businesses and infrastructure. Fifteen people died in Greenbrier County alone.

7:05 p.m.

A dam overflowed and parks have become submerged in water as unrelenting rain brought by Tropical Depression Florence came down on Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the surrounding area.

Water on the Cape Fear River, which passes through Fayetteville, continued to rise Sunday, and according to the National Weather Service had reached more than 44 feet (13 meters) by 6 p.m. The river continues its slow climb to a predicted crest at 62 feet (18.9 meters) Tuesday, prompting a mandatory evacuation for areas within 1 mile of the river.

Just south of Fayetteville, water spilled over the top of the recently constructed Hope Mills Dam, which blocks Rockfish Creek, a tributary of the Cape Fear River.

Fayetteville resident Charles Jockers says the slow rise may lull people into complacency. He says Despite the evacuation order, in-town traffic has been increasing over the last few days.

5:55 p.m.

North Carolina's chief lawyer says he's looking into accusations that retailers are bilking customers through exorbitant prices as Hurricane Florence and the storm's remnants have crossed the state.

Attorney General Josh Stein said Sunday his office has received 500 complaints so far alleging price-gouging for essentials like gas and water, as well as excessive hotel prices for evacuees. Stein says investigations of gas stations have already begun.

The price-gouging law took effect when Cooper declared a state of emergency more than a week ago. It prevents retailers from charging "unreasonably excessive" prices for goods used in an emergency. The law allows Stein's office to stop the high pricing and seek refunds for consumers. Civil penalties also are possible.

Stein also warned citizens to be careful about finding reputable businesses to perform home repairs or tree removals following the storm and about choosing reputable charities for recovery donations.

5:20 p.m.

Officials have confirmed a 16th death attributed to Florence.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety says a pickup truck was traveling east on a road near Gilbert, South Carolina, around 6 a.m. Sunday when it drove into standing water on the roadway.

Officials say the driver, identified as 30-year-old Rhonda R. Hartley, lost control and went off the side of the road, hitting a tree. The driver died at the scene.

Officials in South Carolina are warning about dangerous flash flooding throughout the state as rains from the remnants of Hurricane Florence continue.

The driver's name wasn't immediately released.

5:20 p.m.

Flood waters fueled by Florence's heavy rains have submerged instruments used by the federal government to monitor river levels in North Carolina, causing at least two of them to stop working.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Sunday that a gauge on the Cape Fear River near Chinquapin stopped transmitting after hitting its limit of 24.2 feet (7.38 meters). A gauge on the Trent River in Trenton, North Carolina, stopped working when water levels hit 21.5 feet (6.55 meters). Major flood stages at those sites occur when the rivers reach 15 or 16 feet (4.6 or 4.9 meters).

Supervisory hydrologist Douglas A. Walters says more gauges are likely to become submerged and stop working. The gauges are normally installed well above the heights floodwaters are expected to reach. USGS crews have been working in the field over the weekend to raise some gauges even higher.

5:05 p.m.

Tropical Depression Florence has picked up speed as it continues dumping heavy rains over the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is moving north at 14 mph (22 kph) - a brisk pace compared to its sluggish crawl across the region since Thursday, when it barely topped speeds at which most humans can walk.

Florence's top sustained wind speeds held at 35 mph (55 kph). By 5 p.m. Sunday, Florence was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south-southeast of Greenville, South Carolina, and about 60 miles south-southeast of Asheville, North Carolina.

Forecasters say Florence is still expected to produce excessive rainfall as it turns from the Carolinas over the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England early this week.

5:05 p.m.

Motorists who would ordinarily travel through North Carolina are still being asked to stay out because of poor road conditions in the aftermath of Florence.

Bill Holmes, a state spokesman, said Sunday the message is: "Please don't come through here if you can avoid it."

Authorities say flooding is widespread, conditions are changing constantly and the roads need to be kept clear for first responders. High water has led to closures on Interstates 40 and 95, two major arteries.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation posted a map online of what it acknowledged was an "extremely long detour" through Tennessee and Georgia for travelers heading south on Interstate 95. It also warned that GPS systems are routing users into areas the department doesn't recommend for travel.

A map with real-time road conditions is available online .

4:35 p.m.

Floodwaters from Florence are lapping at doorsteps of some homes in the town of Bennettsville, South Carolina, where firefighters used an inflatable boat to get some residents to dry ground.

Heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Florence caused the street to flood Sunday on Talon Drive where Mildred Smith lives across the street from her niece, Jovanaka Smith.

Water had seeped to their front porches Sunday afternoon when firefighters came to the neighborhood, wading door-to-door through ankle-deep water and asking residents to leave.

The Smiths packed some spare clothes and medications before getting into a rescue boat. They didn't have to go far. Firefighters dropped them off at the neighboring home of a relative that remained on dry ground.

4:15 p.m.

Duke Energy says the collapse of a coal ash landfill at a closed power station near the North Carolina coast is an "ongoing situation," with an unknown amount of potentially contaminated storm water flowing into a nearby lake.

Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said Sunday that a full assessment of how much ash escaped at the Sutton Power Station outside Wilmington can't occur until it stops raining. She said there was no indication that contamination from Sutton Lake had drained into the nearby Cape Fear River.

The company initially estimated on Saturday that about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash were displaced at the landfill, which is enough to fill about 180 dump trucks. Sheehan said that estimate could be revised after a further examination of conditions at the site.

4:15 p.m.

Rivers are rising to dangerous levels and city parks have become submerged in water as unrelenting rain brought by Tropical Depression Florence continues to come down on Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the surrounding area.

The Cape Fear River, which passes through the city, continued to rise Sunday. The National Weather Service says the river had reached 41 feet (12.5 meters) by 2 p.m., 6 feet (2 meters) above flood stage. The river is expected to crest at 62 feet (19 meters) Tuesday, prompting a mandatory evacuation for areas within 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) of the river.

Fayetteville resident Charles Jockers says the slow rise may lull people into complacency. He says despite an evacuation order, in-town traffic has been increasing over the past few days.

Heavy rain continued to fall in Fayetteville on Sunday, and the national weather service predicts 1 inch to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) of rain will fall overnight. Rain is forecast to slow to a trickle of less than a tenth of an inch by Tuesday night.

3:45 p.m.

Officials in southwest Virginia are urging residents to evacuate ahead of potentially "life-threatening" flash flooding.

The city of Roanoke is asking residents who live in a flood plain to leave their homes ahead of heavy rains expected to begin Sunday afternoon as Florence moves out of the Carolinas and heads north.

Roanoke said they expect potentially deadly flash flooding could continue through Monday afternoon. The Red Cross has opened a shelter in the city.

The National Weather Service said Florence could bring as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain in the region and lead to major river flooding that could last for several days.

The Floyd County Sheriff's office said on Facebook that the majority of creeks and rivers that officials surveyed Sunday were "at or just outside of their banks."

3:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service has declared a flash-flood emergency for part of the county that is home to North Carolina's biggest city.

The emergency was put into effect Sunday afternoon for central and southeastern Mecklenburg County. The weather service says streams and creeks are running very high in south Charlotte, Matthews and nearby areas.

The weather service warns some bodies of water have risen to record stages and impacts may be "unprecedented."

The city of Charlotte tweeted that residents should stay off the roads.

A flash-flood emergency also was declared for adjacent Union County, where the weather service says several water rescues were underway and emergency management officials reported as many as 70 flooded roads.

3:30 p.m.

South Carolina officials are warning residents about flash flooding as rains from Florence continue to pelt the state.

Gov. Henry McMaster told reporters on Sunday that it will be days until the cresting of rivers in the area of most concern, along the state's border with North Carolina.

Officials have been warning for days that flooding could be disastrous in the Yadkin-Pee Dee River basin, into which several swollen rivers that originate in North Carolina flow.

National Weather Service officials noted that as much as 16 inches (40 centimeters) of rain have fallen in Chesterfield County, with other nearby areas marking similar rainfall totals from Florence..

Transportation Secretary Christy Hall says workers are still working on projects along two roadways to divert rainwater to keep U.S. 378 and U.S. 501 Bypass passable.

3:20 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has spoken to the mayors of New Bern, North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as he monitors the response to Florence.

The White House says Trump was also briefed Sunday on the storm's aftermath by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Coast Guard Commandant Karl Schultz and Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Trump and Mayors Dana Outlaw of New Bern and Brenda Bethune of Myrtle Beach discussed rescue-and-response efforts in those communities.

The White House says Outlaw thanked Trump for immediately authorizing an emergency declaration to help speed the delivery of federal assistance.

2:05 p.m.

A small town in northeast South Carolina is getting flooding rains from what's left of Florence.

Downpours overnight flooded main roads in the town of Cheraw early Sunday and brought water to the doorsteps of some low-lying homes.

Cheraw Police Chief Keith Thomas says about 12 people were evacuated from four homes. Police rescued five others from cars that stalled out in floodwaters. Thomas says no one was injured.

The flooding largely receded from the town of about 6,000 people by Sunday afternoon. But Thomas said rain could fall until midnight.

Debbie Covington was nervously watching water rise in a drainage ditch near her home. She evacuated her elderly parents from their house next door, which sits directly beside the overflowing ditch.

Covington said roads blocked by water and fallen trees were making it difficult to drive.

2 p.m.

The death toll from Florence has risen to 15.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol says a pickup truck was traveling west on Interstate 20 in Kershaw County on Sunday morning when it went off the roadway. Troopers say the truck struck an overpass support beam, and the driver died at the scene.

Kershaw County Coroner David West says the driver's name has not been released because all relatives have not yet been notified.

Heavy rain has fallen on portions of central and eastern South Carolina after former hurricane-turned-Tropical Depression Florence moved onshore.

1:10 p.m.

Some officials rely on the "Waffle House index" to determine how serious a storm is. If the Waffle House is closed, the storm is really, really bad.

In Fayetteville, North Carolina, it's the "Rude Awakening index."

Bruce Arnold owns the downtown coffee shop by that name that has been in business in the city for 20 years.

Arnold says the shop only shuts down if it loses power, which it did in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew.

But as of Sunday afternoon, the shop still had its lights on and was open for business - even as others nearby were boarded up and had sandbags piled in front of their doors.

Meanwhile, long lines were forming at gas stations Sunday as a persistent rain fell. Many of the city's stations are out of fuel.

Debbie Randolph says she and her husband called one station that said they had 5,000 gallons (19,000 liters) - and 60 people waiting to fill up.

12:50 p.m.

   The city of Wilmington, North Carolina, has been completely cut off by floodwaters and officials are asking for additional help from state law enforcement and the National Guard.

   Woody White is chairman of the board of commissioners of New Hanover County. He said at a news conference Sunday that additional rainfall Saturday night made roads into the city impassable.

   White says officials are planning for food and water to be flown to the county, although new distribution centers will have to be found because of all the rain in the northern part of the county.

   Earlier Sunday, officials from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority had said they were almost out of fuel for the water plant and might have to shut down. The utility later issued a release saying it had found additional fuel.

   White says officials have asked Gov. Roy Cooper for additional aid.

   12:50 p.m.

   North Carolina officials say large-scale search-and-rescue operations are underway in coastal areas as floodwaters from Florence spread across the state and road conditions worsen.

   Michael Sprayberry is director of the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. He said at a news conference that more than 1,000 responders were working with more than 200 boats to rescue people Sunday afternoon.

   Officials are also delivering food, water and rescue vehicles to hard-hit areas.

   The state's transportation secretary says 171 primary roads are closed, 100 more than a day earlier. Officials warned that problems would spread westward Sunday along with the remnants of the storm.

   Gov. Roy Cooper says the storm has "never been more dangerous" than it is now for areas from Fayetteville and Lumberton, across the Sandhills and central part of the state into the mountains.

   Around 15,000 North Carolinians are in shelters and about 700,000 were without power.

   Noon

North Carolina state regulators and environmental groups are monitoring the threat from hog and poultry farms in low-lying, flood-prone areas.

   These industrial-scale farms typically feature vast pits of animal feces and urine that can pose a significant pollution threat if they are breached or inundated by floodwaters.

   In past hurricanes, flooding at dozens of farms also left hundreds of thousands of dead hogs, chickens and other decomposing livestock bobbing in the floodwaters.

   11:45 a.m.

   North Carolina's transportation secretary says one of his top priorities is to find a way to get into Wilmington after damage from Florence closed major roads into the city.

   Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon told The Associated Press on Sunday that U.S. 74 into Wilmington is impassable and Interstate 40 into the city also is closed.

   Trodgon spoke as he flew with Gov. Roy Cooper over some of the damaged areas. During the flight on a U.S. Coast Guard cargo plane, they flew from Raleigh and to some of the hardest-hit areas, including Fayetteville, Lumberton, Jacksonville and New Bern. Weather conditions prevented them from getting as far east as Wilmington.

   11:45 a.m.

   The manager of a southeastern North Carolina county says about 90 people have been rescued from high waters due to flooding.

   Columbus County Manager Mike Stephens said late Sunday morning that rivers and streams have been rising due to large amounts of rain from Florence and power is out in a large swath of the county. Stephens says the county's secondary roads are "almost impassable" and water is covering part of one main highway, U.S. 74.

   Stephens says some of the people were rescued from vehicles that ran into deep water.

   He says there have been no reports of injuries or fatalities in Columbus County from the storm.

   11:20 a.m.

   Former hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Florence has claimed a 14th victim: a man who drowned when a pickup truck flipped into a drainage ditch in South Carolina.

   Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson says 23-year-old Michael Dalton Prince was a passenger in the truck, which lost control on a flooded two-lane road early Sunday.

   Johnson says the driver and another passenger escaped after the truck ended upside down in the flooded ditch north of Georgetown.

   Prince is the fourth person killed by the storm in South Carolina.

   Authorities say a Horry County couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning running a generator inside and a Union County woman died when her vehicle hit a tree branch.

   10:30  a.m.

   One of the authorities leading the response to Florence says the storm is causing "historic and unprecedented flooding."

   Michael Sprayberry is director of the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. He told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Florence's combination of heavy rainfall, extreme storm surge and high winds makes the storm "one for the record books."

   Both Sprayberry and Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl Schultz say they are getting all the support they need from the federal government.

   Schultz has a lead role in responding to Florence. He notes that the storm is moving very slowly and that some of the affected areas haven't seen the worst of it.

   He also notes that the affected areas are looking at a "long-term recovery."

   9:45 a.m.

   The mayor of a Fayetteville, North Carolina, suburb says about 100 people in her community have been urged to evacuate to higher ground over flooding concerns.

   Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said Sunday morning that the warning went out to neighborhoods around Hope Mills Lake because the water there is expected to rise significantly. She says fire and police officials were going door to door in the affected neighborhoods Sunday morning to make sure people are aware.

   Warner says a complete dam failure is not expected. So far, she says the lake hasn't overflowed its banks.

   9:45 a.m.

   The mayor of New Bern, North Carolina, says his city has imposed a curfew. He says there are 30 roads still unpassable, 4,200 homes and more than 300 commercial buildings damaged, 6,000 customers without power and 1,200 residents in shelters because of hurricane-turned Tropical Depression Florence.

   Mayor Dana Outlaw told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that many of the creeks in the area are "increasing by the hour" and there's concern about trees falling due to the saturated ground conditions.

   Outlaw says officials are "urging residents to stay inside and to not travel," especially so as to not interrupt utility workers trying to restore power.

   9:45 a.m.

   The head of the U.S. government's disaster relief agency says Florence is unfortunately delivering the damage that was predicted as it sweeps across the Carolinas.

   Brock Long told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working to meet the demands of North Carolina officials "as they're coming up to us."

   Long noted that "recovery is always a very frustrating process for people when they've lost their livelihoods, but we're going to be OK."

   Long says the agency's immediate focus is on search-and-rescue efforts and meeting the needs of people who are in shelters.

9 a.m.

   Authorities say a couple have died in South Carolina after using a generator inside their home during Florence.

   Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said 63-year-old Mark Carter King and 61-year-old Debra Collins Rion were killed by breathing in carbon monoxide.

   Willard said in a statement their bodies were found in a Loris home Saturday afternoon, but they likely died the day before as the heavy rains and winds from former hurricane-turned-Tropical Depression Florence were moving onshore.

   5:10 a.m.

   Florence has weakened into to tropical depression but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas.

   The National Hurricane Center says in its 5 a.m. update Sunday that excessive amounts of rain are still being dumped in North Carolina and the effect is expected to be "catastrophic." An elevated risk of landslides is now expected in western North Carolina.

   Forecasters say heavy rains also are expected early in the week in parts of West Virginia and the west-central portion of Virginia. Both states also are at a risk of dangerous flash floods and river flooding.

   At 5 a.m. Sunday, Florence was about 20 miles (35 kilometers) southwest of Columbia, South Carolina. It has top sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and is moving west at 8 mph (13 kph).

   2:06 a.m.

   Tropical Storm Florence is expected to weaken into a depression soon but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas.

   The National Hurricane Center says excessive amounts of rain are still being dumped in North Carolina and the effect is expected to be "catastrophic." In its 2 a.m. update Sunday, the center also says an elevated risk of landslides is now expected in western North Carolina.

   Forecasters say heavy rains also are expected early in the week in parts of West Virginia and the west-central portion of Virginia. Both states also are at a risk of dangerous flash floods and river flooding.

   At 2 a.m. Sunday, Florence was about 25 miles (45 kilometers) southeast of Columbia, South Carolina. It has top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and is moving west at 6 mph (9 kph).

   1:05 a.m.

   North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of the still-unfolding disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding from Florence.

   After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 mph (145 kph) winds, Florence virtually parked itself much of the weekend atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore. Storm surges, flash floods and winds have spread destruction widely and the Marines, the Coast Guard and volunteers have used boats, helicopters, and heavy-duty vehicles to conduct hundreds of rescues as of Saturday.

   The death toll from the hurricane-turned-tropical storm has now climbed to 11.

   Rivers are swelling toward record levels, forecaster warn, and thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate for fear that the next few days could bring some of the most destructive flooding in North Carolina history.


10:55 p.m.

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Florence are producing flash flooding and major river flooding in the southeastern part of North Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center says excessive amounts of rain are being dumped on the state. It says the effect is expected to be "catastrophic." In its 11 p.m. update Saturday, the center also says an elevated risk of landslides is now expected in western North Carolina as heavy rains spread there.

And the threat is not only limited to the North Carolina and South Carolina. Forecasters say heavy rains are eventually expected early in the week to head into parts of West Virginia and the west-central portion of Virginia - also at a risk of dangerous flash floods and river flooding in those states.

At 11 p.m. Sunday, Florence was about 40 miles (65 kilometers) east-southeast of Columbia, South Carolina. It has top sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and is moving to the west at 3 mph (6 kph).

9 p.m.

Record flooding is expected on North Carolina's Cape Fear River in the coming week, and signs of the coming flood are already apparent.

The Cape Fear River is predicted to crest at 62 feet (nearly 19 meters) in Fayetteville on Tuesday.

Weekend rains have soaked the city and the surrounding area. Officials have warned the river could swell more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) past its banks. The nearby Little River, which feeds into the Cape Fear River, is also set to experience record flooding.

On U.S. Route 401, rain accumulated in ditches and unharvested tobacco crops along the road. Ponds had already started to overflow, and creeks passing under the highway charged with muddy, brown water.

John Rose owns a furniture business with stores less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the Cape Fear River. When he heard about possible flooding, he moved quickly to empty more than 1,000 mattresses from a warehouse located in a low-lying strip mall threatened by the coming surge of water. Rose says that "if the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water."

8:10 p.m.

Duke Energy says heavy rains from Florence have caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station outside Wilmington, North Carolina.

Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said Saturday evening that about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash have been displaced at the Sutton Plant and that contaminated storm water likely flowed into Sutton Lake, the plant's cooling pond. The company hasn't yet determined if the weir that drains the cooling pond was open or whether any contamination may have flowed into the swollen Cape Fear River.

Sheehan says the company had reported the incident to state and federal regulators.

Sutton was retired in 2013 and the company has been excavating ash to remove to safer lined landfills. The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including lead and arsenic.

Florence slammed into the North Carolina coast as a large hurricane Friday and has since flooded rivers and left destruction and several people dead.

7:55 p.m.

The core of Tropical Storm Florence is now drifting westward over South Carolina, threatening more flash floods and major river flooding.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence was located around 8 p.m. Saturday about 65 miles (100 kilometers) east-southeast of Columbia, the South Carolina capital. Its top sustained winds have dropped some to 45 mph (75 kph) and Florence is crawling along at 2 mph (4 kph).

Forecasters say that Florence is still a dangerous storm and is expected to dump excessive rainfall on wide areas of North Carolina and South Carolina. They also say the storm could kick up a few tornadoes on its trek across the region.

The large storm came ashore earlier in the week as a hurricane, flooding rivers, forcing high-water rescues and leaving several people dead amid a trail of destruction.

7:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is tweeting his sympathies and condolences for victims of Florence.

In a tweet Saturday evening, Trump said five deaths had been recorded so far in the storm's wake. Officials had already raised the death toll to 11 by the time of the tweet, which followed a White House briefing.

Trump tweeted: "Deepest sympathies and warmth go out to the families and friends of the victims. May God be with them!"

Florence, which came ashore as a large hurricane earlier in the week, is slowly crawling inland across the Carolinas after dumping heavy rains and causing severe flooding. The flooding threat continues in the region.

6 p.m.

Some of North Carolina's largest public universities are canceling classes a little longer because travel remains uncertain and risky while Florence lingers in the region.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in Raleigh both announced Saturday that they would resume classes Tuesday. East Carolina University in Greenville -which is closer to the coast- plans to re-open Wednesday.

News releases from all three campuses identified travel challenges for students in making their decisions. These schools cancelled classes for two or three days earlier in the week as Florence approached the coast as a hurricane. Though downgraded to a tropical storm it is still churning across the region, dumping heavy rains and leaving flooding and destruction in its wake.

5:35 p.m.

Authorities say three more people have died in North Carolina as a result of Florence, bringing the overall death toll to 11.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has confirmed the storm-related deaths of an 81-year-old man in Wayne County who fell and struck head while packing to evacuate Friday. That agency also is reporting the deaths of a husband and wife in a house fire that same day in Cumberland County that is linked to the storm.

Authorities did not immediately release further details.

5:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump was briefed by telephone Saturday on Florence's impact on the East Coast.

No details about the content of the president's briefing were released.

The White House issued a photograph showing Trump seated at a desk in the residence holding a telephone receiver to his ear.

Vice President Mike Pence stood nearby.

5:25 p.m.

The top U.S. military commander for national defense says the slow movement of the storm is making it difficult to get more helicopters airborne for rescues in hard-hit areas.

The head of U.S. Northern Command, Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, tells The Associated Press that Marine MV-22 Osprey aircraft are preparing to launch off Navy ships heading toward the coast, to provide greater awareness of what's going, particularly in North Carolina.

O'Shaughnessy says Northern Command is also using two airborne early warning radar and surveillance aircraft, flying above the storm, to assess bridges, roads and other infrastructure. The aircraft are also able to help relay communications from low-flying helicopters to the FAA if transmissions are affected by storm.

O'Shaughnessy says he expects helicopters and high-water vehicles will be the greatest need.

5:20 p.m.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is warning residents in the southwest part of the state to prepare for flooding and possible landslides early next week from the remnants of Hurricane Florence.

The state so far has been spared from severe hurricane impacts, but the southwest portion of the state is expecting up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of rain.

Northam said in a news release Saturday that emergency management officials are working to move people and commodities into place to prepare for flooding, including swift water rescue teams. Says Northam: "Now is not the time to let our guard down."

Emergency officials in Virginia have also deployed 25 high-wheeled vehicles and 50 personnel to help with rescue operations in North Carolina.

5:10 p.m.

Transportation officials dealing with worsening roads because of Florence have a message for out-of-state motorists traveling through North Carolina: Please don't use our highways.

State Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon made the plea Saturday, citing the continuing rains and expected flash flooding that has closed parts of 100 major roads.

A 16-mile (25-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 95 is already closed, and Trogdon expects other portions of the road to be shut down near Lumberton as the Lumber River's levels rise there. And a smaller portion of Interstate 40 is shut down.

Trogdon says flash flooding on roads could continue for several days. He says he wants to prevent thousands of people potentially being stranded on the road sides due to sudden flooding.

He adds that North Carolina is working with officials in other states and with federal transportation officials to get the word out to motorists to avoid the Carolinas and find alternate routes through the neighboring states of Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia.

5:05 p.m.

Officials say high-water rescues have been completed in New Bern, a North Carolina city swamped by flooding from Florence.

The city said in a statement Saturday that 455 people in all were rescued from Florence's floodwaters. Waters began rising there late Thursday as Florence approached as a hurricane.

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts says there were no significant injuries reported during the rescues, and there have been no fatalities in the city. She says a round-the-clock curfew is in effect until Monday morning, meaning residents shouldn't be out on the streets.

Roberts said around 1,200 people were in local shelters Saturday.

She says thousands of buildings are damaged and calls the destruction "heart-wrenching."

5 p.m.

All coastal storm surge warnings have been discontinued as Tropical Florence slowly plods inland.

The National Hurricane Center says water levels along the Carolinas coastline were gradually receding Saturday afternoon, though some minor coastal flooding was possible through Sunday.

Florence's heavy rainfall is forecast to continue, potentially causing catastrophic inland flooding. The hurricane center says some areas along North Carolina's coast could see up to 40 inches (100 centimeters) of total rain by the time Florence passes through early next week.

At 5 p.m. Saturday, Florence was barely crawling west at 2 mph (3.2 kph), with its center located about 60 miles (95 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Florence's top sustained winds were holding at 45 mph (75 kph).

Forecasters say Florence could weaken to a tropical depression late Saturday.

4:15 p.m.

A herd of wild horses that roams a northern portion of North Carolina's Outer Banks has survived Florence just fine.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a group devoted to protecting and managing the herd of wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs, posted a message on its Facebook page saying the horses were "doing their normal thing - grazing, socializing, and wondering what us crazy humans are all worked up over."

Forecasts earlier in the week that showed Florence potentially making a more direct hit on the northern Outer Banks had many people worried about how the horses would fare. But wildlife experts had said there was no need to worry.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore tweeted Saturday that all of the ponies in another herd on Ocracoke Island were safe.

The Cape Lookout National Seashore said in a Facebook post that it would provide an update on a herd of horses at another location - Shackleford Banks - just as soon as staff could return to do condition assessments.

4:10 p.m.

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued in North Carolina's Cumberland County and the towns of Linden and Wade for anyone living within a mile (1.6 kilometers) of the banks of the Cape Fear and Little rivers.

Josh Kicklighter, a 23-year-old truck driver from Nicholas County, West Virginia, who moved to Wade two years ago, sat on his porch with his family Saturday and spoke of how the storm had knocked out his power.

Regarding the evacuation order, Kicklighter says the family would "probably stay" because "I think we're pretty much out of the way of" the mile radius.

3:50 p.m.

The Internal Revenue Service says victims of Hurricane Florence will get a grace period before having to file some tax returns and payments.

The IRS said Saturday it's offering the relief in parts of North Carolina and other regions designated a disaster area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Upcoming September deadlines for certain individual and business tax filings and payments will be postponed until Jan. 31 next year.

That includes quarterly estimated income tax payments that would have been due next week, and quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due Sept. 30.

The IRS says it will automatically provide relief for people with addresses in the counties designated a disaster area.

Taxpayers who qualify for relief but live outside the disaster area can call the IRS at 866-562-5227.

3:40 p.m.

Many residents who evacuated North Carolina's Outer Banks ahead of Hurricane Florence are making their way back onto the barrier islands, which were spared from the worst of the storm's wrath.

The residents as well as workers and property owners were being allowed onto the northern portion of the islands beginning Saturday morning. Visitors were expected to be allowed entry to the same area beginning Sunday.

County officials and business owners reported relatively minimal damage, and there were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.

While the Outer Banks survived Florence fairly unscathed, scientists say they remain incredibly vulnerable to future storms, climate change, and sea-level rise.

3:30 p.m.

Authorities in North Carolina are reporting two more weather-related deaths.

The Duplin County Sheriff's Office said on its Facebook page on Saturday that two people died due to "flash flooding and swift water on roadways."

The Associated Press was unable to get details because the sheriff's office phone line was not working.

The deaths bring the death toll from Florence, which came ashore on Friday as a hurricane, to at least seven. All but one of those deaths occurred in North Carolina. One victim died in South Carolina.

   2:50 p.m.

   Hurricane Florence evacuees from the Carolinas are getting free tickets to watch the University of Florida's football team play Colorado State.

   The ticket office and athletic association at the University of Florida extended the invitation to evacuees for Saturday's game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

   Gator officials say evacuees had to present a valid ID showing they're from North Carolina or South Carolina.

   2:05 p.m.

   Though weakened, Florence remains a very large, slow and dangerous storm as it swirls over the Carolinas.

   The National Hurricane Center said Florence's top sustained winds were holding at 45 mph (75 kph), with higher gusts east of the storm's center.

   At 2 p.m. Saturday, Florence was inching west at 3 mph (6 kph), with its center located about 50 miles (85 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

   Forecasters say prolonged rainfall from Florence could produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding.

   Tropical storm-force winds stretched up to 150 miles (240 kilometers) from the storm's center.

   1:15 p.m.

   A mandatory evacuation order has been put in place for anyone who lives within a mile of the banks of North Carolina's Cape Fear River and Little River.

   Officials from Cumberland County, Fayetteville and the town of Wade issued the order early Saturday afternoon, saying residents there face "imminent danger" from flood waters expected to arrive in the area soon.

   Residents are being asked to leave immediately. Officials said flood waters from other areas are accumulating north of the county and filling the river basins beyond their capacities. They asked that the evacuation begin immediately and that everyone within the evacuation areas get out by 3 p.m. Sunday.

   Seven emergency shelters are open in the county.

   1:50 p.m.

   Officials in South Carolina are reporting the state's first fatality due to Florence, bringing the storm's overall death toll to at least five.

   A 61-year-old woman was killed late Friday when the vehicle she was driving struck a tree that had fallen across Highway 18 near the town of Union.

   Capt. Kelley Hughes of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said the woman, who was wearing a seat belt, died at the scene. No passengers were in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

   The tree was about 6 feet above the road surface. Hughes said the vehicle's roof is what struck the tree.

   Four weather-related deaths have been reported in North Carolina.

   12:35 p.m.

   Portions of eastern North Carolina's two interstates are closed because of flooding caused by Tropical Storm Florence's torrential rains and may not re-open before Monday.

   The state Department of Transportation says a 16-mile (26-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 95 between its intersection with I-40 and near the town of Dunn is closed. Law enforcement has set up a detour.

   Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said Saturday that authorities were still assembling an alternate route for a 5-mile section of I-40 that is closed in both directions near the town of Warsaw, about 70 miles (115 kilometers) southeast of Raleigh.

   The state DOT said on its website that the two roads are expected to re-open by Monday morning.

   Trogdon says road conditions are expected to get worse in the immediate future, pointing out the number of closed primary roads in eastern counties had doubled compared to Friday. He urged motorists not to travel east of I-95 or south of U.S. Highway 70.

   11:45 a.m.

   The Navy says almost 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.

   The Navy says the aircraft will make their way back beginning Saturday, and the ships will start to return Sunday.

   A Navy statement says the decision comes after inspections of the region's port and airfield.

   11:30 a.m.

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

   Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order lifting evacuation orders for Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester and the Edisto Beach area of Colleton County effective at noon Saturday.

   McMaster had ordered residents in most of the state's coastal counties to evacuate ahead of Florence's arrival. The slow-moving storm is still dumping colossal amounts of rain on North Carolina and parts of northern South Carolina.

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

   11 a.m.

   Tropical Storm Florence continues to weaken as it dumps dangerous amounts of rain across the Carolinas.

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

   At 11 a.m. Saturday, Florence was moving west at 2 mph (4 kph), with its center located about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

   The storm's extremely slow speed means the risk of catastrophic flooding remains high across both states. Some areas are forecast to receive up to 15 inches more rain, and storm totals could reach over 3 feet in some areas for the week.

   National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham says areas like New Bern, North Carolina, could also see additional storm surge as high tide combines with the ocean waters still being pushed ashore by Florence's outer bands.

   9 a.m.

   North Carolina's Harnett County has declared a mandatory evacuation along a river that's expected to rise to more than 17 feet above flood stage.

   On its Facebook page, the county said the evacuation was in effect along the Lower Little River near the Cumberland County line.

   The National Weather Service is forecasting the river to crest at Manchester at 35.4 feet at about 8 a.m. Monday. Flood stage is 18 feet.

   The previous record crest was 29 feet set during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

   The river is forecast to reach flood stage sometime after 2 a.m. Sunday.

8:25 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for North Carolina and that will make federal money available to people in the counties of Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender.

Government aid can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of Hurricane Florence.

Money also is available to the state, some local governments, and some private nonprofit groups on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in those counties.

8 a.m.

Tropical Storm Florence is continuing to dump dangerous amounts of rain as it continues its slow slog across the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence is moving west at 2 mph (3.2 kph), with its center located about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Maximum sustained winds remained at 50 mph (80 kph).

The region is being pounded with rain from the slow-moving storm, causing the risk of catastrophic flooding. Southern and central portions of North Carolina into far northeast

Parts of North and South Carolina can expect an additional 10 to 15 inches. Storm totals could reach between 30 and 40 inches in some areas.

At 8 a.m. EDT, the Miami-based hurricane center said rainfall will continue to produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding.

5 a.m.

Tropical Storm Florence keeps drenching the central Carolinas, with an additional 10 to 15 inches of rain expected before it finally swings north over the Appalachian Mountains and into the Ohio Valley on Monday.

The National Hurricane Center says top sustained winds have dropped to near 50 mph (80 kph) with higher gusts, and Florence is expected to become a tropical depression later Saturday.

At 5 a.m., the center was all but parked over South Carolina, 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.

1:30 a.m.

Tropical Storm Florence is practically stalled over the Carolinas and the monster storm could dump drenching rains of up to 3½ feet (1 meter). That, in turn, could trigger epic flooding well inland.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper calls Florence the "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities. The storm is some 400 miles (645 kilometers) wide. Power outages are widespread including over 740,000 in North Carolina and 163,000 in South Carolina. Rescue crews have used boats to reach hundreds besieged by the rising waters.

Early Saturday morning Florence's winds weakened to 65 mph (100 kph) as it moved forward at 5 mph (7 kph) and was about 15 miles (25 kilometers) west northwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

11 p.m.

Florence is crawling slowly across South Carolina as life-threatening storm surges and strong winds are expected to continue overnight, amid a rising inland flood threat.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the core of Florence was located at 11 p.m. Friday about 15 miles west-northwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Top sustained winds are now about 65 mph and the storm is moving to the west-southwest at 5 mph -- a track that is expected to continue through early Saturday.

Forecasters say catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected over parts of North Carolina and South Carolina ahead.

As Florence moves further inland over the coming days, the storm is expected to gradually weaken. Forecasters say it could become a depression by Saturday night.

10 p.m.

One city in North Carolina has picked up more than 23 inches of rain in two days from Tropical Storm Florence.

The National Weather Service said on Twitter on Friday night that Morehead City had received 23.04 inches of rain with more heavy rain coming.

Forecasters have issued what they call a a flash flood emergency, saying areas of surrounding Carteret County are flooding that have never flooded before.

Forecasters say it is especially dangerous after dark because people trying to escape may not realize how deep flood water is on roads.

Officials recommend anyone whose home starts to flood get to the highest point they can and call 911.

About 500 people had to be rescued in flooding early Friday in New Bern, which is about 30 miles north of Morehead City.

Forecasters say an additional 4 to 8 inches of rain is possible through the night.

8 p.m.

The center of Tropical Storm Florence has moved into South Carolina, and both it and North Carolina continue to face powerful winds and catastrophic flooding.

Florence's top sustained winds remain at 70 mph as it crawls west at just 3 mph (6 kph).

At 8 p.m. Friday, Florence was centered about 15 miles north-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and about 55 miles east-southeast of Florence, South Carolina.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center. The National Hurricane Center says a sustained wind of 55 mph (89 kph) and a gust to 68 mph were reported in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

8 p.m.

The sheriff of a North Carolina county hit by Florence says four men are charged with break-ins that happened after residents evacuated.

Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram tells news outlets the break-ins happened Thursday. He says two men are charged with possession of burglary tools and breaking and entering of a convenience store in Leland. Two other men are charged with breaking or entering of a motor vehicle.

Ingram says deputies will do everything they can to lock up people who "prey upon the citizens of Brunswick County."

Ingram says officials made sure ahead of time to have "adequate (jail) space for anybody that wanted to try that."

8 p.m.

President Donald Trump is assuring officials in North Carolina that the federal government is prepared to assist with any help they need as the result of widespread flooding and property damage caused by Florence.

Earlier Friday, the president called Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Charlotte Mayor Vie Lyles, and Princeville Mayor Bobbie Jones.

The White House says Trump has been monitoring hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Florence throughout the day and has received updates regarding the impact of the devastating storm.

7:30 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the state must be prepared for several additional days of rain, winds and ultimately more flooding before the damage caused by Florence finally ends.

Cooper said at a news conference Friday that as now-Tropical Storm Florence moves slowly westward this weekend, people living in south-central North Carolina will see flooding, some for the first time. Areas at risk include the cities of Fayetteville and Charlotte and the Sandhills region.

Closer to the coast, Cooper says he issued an order to allow sandbagging in and around Lumberton to lessen the effects of a rising Lumber River. Rains starting in the mountains also ultimately could produce mudslides.

More than 750,000 people are without power in the state, and Cooper says that number is expected to rise.

The governor announced another mega-shelter would be opening on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That's in addition to a large shelter already open at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem. More than 19,000 people were in over 150 shelters before dawn Friday.

7 p.m.

Officials at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington have announced the school will remain closed until further notice because of the effects of Hurricane Florence.

A memo sent out to school personnel Friday said officials "cannot yet effectively or comprehensively assess the impact on our campus." Because of that, the school said it is unable to determine when it will resume the fall semester. The school will remain closed until further notice.

The memo said the school will give students and employees as much notice as possible before it reopens, giving weight to travel challenges and other factors. Officials said they can't determine how the closure will affect the academic calendar.

7:15 p.m.

Dozens of people in the North Carolina town of Belhaven had to be rescued from the rising waters of Pungo River and a creek that together hem in the sea-level community.

The downtown area including the municipal building and nearby homes were swamped, starting with the high tide on Thursday evening. Roads into the town of about 1,500 people remained submerged Friday, forcing the retreat of a county ambulance truck and an electricity company repair vehicle that tried to enter from the east and west along the town's main road.

Mayor Ricky Credle was holed up at the municipal building Friday afternoon. He says the town is "closed off" amid the highest water downtown that he had ever seen.

Credle says the sheriff's department used a high-axle truck to rescue some residents who wanted to leave, dropping them off at Red Cross shelters.

7 p.m.

Hikers are having to get off the Appalachian Trail as Tropical Storm Florence continues to dump heavy rains, causing floods and other dangerous conditions in areas the trail passes through.

The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service have closed portions of the trail in North Carolina and Virginia because of the storms.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is urging hikers to get off the trail and seek shelter. The nonprofit said dangerous conditions could include falling trees, flash floods and mudslides.

The Appalachian Trail stretches more than 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine and has more than 3 million visitors each year. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy says more than 3,000 people attempt to hike the entire trail each year.

7 p.m.

More than three quarters of a million power outages have been reported in the Carolinas as Tropical Storm Florence slowly creeps across the two states.

Emails and website tallies from North Carolina utilities show more than 750,000 outages had been reported in North Carolina as of late Friday afternoon.

Poweroutage.us tracks outages across the country. The service says more than 107,000 outages were reported in South Carolina.

The storm's top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph, and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 mph.

At 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 50 miles west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center. The National Hurricane Center says Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast.

5:50 p.m.

Swift-water rescue teams are assisting residents of one historic North Carolina community swamped by Hurricane Florence.

New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts told The Associated Press more than 360 people had been rescued by midafternoon Friday, but another 140 were still waiting for help.

She says crews from the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency were working with citizen volunteers to get people to dry ground.

Roberts says there is widespread damage and power outages in the city but so far no reports of deaths or injuries.

4:50 p.m.

Forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and South Carolina with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph, and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 mph.

At 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 50 miles west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center. The National Hurricane Center says Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast.

4:25 p.m.

South Carolina's most popular tourist destination is riding out Hurricane Florence without major problems so far.

In North Myrtle Beach, rain has been falling nearly all day and tree branches and limbs are on some roads. The power is out on the main strip, but almost no vehicles are on the six-lane highway through the center of town other than police.

North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling says three-quarters of the area's 37,000 electric customers are without power.

To the south, Myrtle Beach was faring better. Power outages were spotty, and Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea says no significant property damage has been reported.

No areas in South Carolina reported problems with surge from the ocean as winds continued from the land pushing water away.

4:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is preparing to travel to areas affected by Hurricane Florence next week.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump will travel to the region "early to middle of next week."

She adds his trip will take place "once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts."

Aides say Trump has been monitoring the massive storm from the White House, and he has taken to Twitter to encourage those in its path to listen to their local authorities for how best to remain safe.

The storm, blamed for at least three fatalities, has inundated parts of the Carolina coast with heavy rain and high winds.

3:05 p.m.

A mother and infant in North Carolina are dead after a tree fell on their home - the first two fatalities of Hurricane Florence.

The Wilmington Police Department said Friday that the two were killed when a tree fell on their house. The father was transported to a hospital for treatment. No other information was given.

The hurricane came ashore early Friday, pounding the state with torrential rain and high winds.

Forecasters have been predicting catastrophic flash flooding. The National Hurricane Center in Miami says more than 16 inches of rain have fallen at locations in southeast North Carolina and another 20 to 25 inches is on the way.

   ------

2 p.m.

A weakening Hurricane Florence is almost at a standstill over southeastern North Carolina.

It just barely has Category 1 hurricane strength with top sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

At 2 p.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was crawling west at 5 mph (7 kph).

The National Hurricane Center said Florence was forecast to keep moving farther inland across the Carolinas through the weekend before turning toward the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 170 miles (280 kilometers).

------

1:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service says 14 to 15 inches of rain has already fallen north of Swansboro, North Carolina and it's only going to get worse.

Weather Prediction Center senior forecaster David Roth said catastrophic flash flooding is expected to continue to worsen Friday.

He said that the heavy rainfall for southeast North Carolina is only one-third to one-quarter the way over.

"Plenty of heavy rain remains in the future for this region," Roth wrote in the weather center's rain forecast discussion.

12:25 p.m.

Florence's total rainfall will likely be staggeringly huge.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculates that Hurricane Florence is forecast to dump about 18 trillion gallons of rain in seven days over the Carolinas and Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

That doesn't quite measure up to the 25 trillion gallons Harvey dropped on Texas and Louisiana last year. Maue says Harvey stalled longer and stayed closer to the coast, which enabled it to keep sucking moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Still, 18 trillion gallons is as much water as there is in the entire Chesapeake Bay. It's enough to cover the entire state of Texas with nearly four inches (10 centimeters) of water.

That much rain is 2.4 trillion cubic feet (68 billion cubic meters). It's enough to cover Manhattan with nearly 3,800 feet (1.1 kilometers) of water, more than twice as high as the island's tallest building.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough rain to cover the Tar Heel state in about 10 inches (25 centimeters) of water.

Maue calculates that 34 million people will get at least 3 inches, with more than 5.7 million getting at least a foot and about 1.5 million getting 20 inches or more.

11:55 a.m.

U.S. immigration officials say they won't do any active enforcement during evacuations or in shelters during Hurricane Florence.

Homeland Security officials say Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are focused on the preservation of life and safety.

The Trump administration has stepped up arrests of people living in the country illegally, but during this storm they say they won't enforce immigration laws unless there's a serious public safety threat.

Immigration officers have been dispatched to help with response and recovery as Florence lashes North and South Carolina with life-threatening winds, rain and floods.

But Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says saving lives is the priority, and anyone fearing for their safety should call 911 for help. Federal officials say they don't want people to fear going to shelters.

11:45 a.m.

North Carolina officials say parts of the state could experience a once-in-a-millennia flood as Hurricane Florence dumps rain for days to come.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday that Florence is "wreaking havoc" and he's concerned "whole communities" could be wiped away.

He said parts of the state have seen storm surges as high as 10 feet.

Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said the state is expecting 1,000-year "flood events" in areas between Wilmington and Charlotte.

Cooper said the state hasn't seen any Florence-related fatalities so far, but he's concerned about people's safety as the storm continues.

11 a.m.

Forecasters say the center of Hurricane Florence is hovering just inland near Cape Fear, North Carolina.

It remains a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph), but stronger wind gusts have been reported.

At 11 a.m., Florence was centered about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 mph (6kph), lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles (110 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km).

   ------

10:40 a.m.

Rising water forced a North Carolina TV station to evacuate its newsroom in the middle of Hurricane Florence coverage.

Hours before the storm made landfall Friday, workers at New Bern's WCTI-TV NewsChannel 12 had to abandon their studio.

A spokesperson for the ABC affliciate said roads around the building were flooding.

The weather service later measured a storm surge 10 feet deep in the city, which lies on the Neuse River near the Atlantic coast. It's about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Wrightsville Beach, where Florence made landfall at 7:15 a.m. Friday.

Video posted on Twitter showed a meteorologist telling viewers they'd be taken to coverage from sister station WPDE in Myrtle Beach.

Just after midnight, the station tweeted that everyone had safely evacuated.

   ------

10:15 a.m.

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.

Rainfall also is swelling waterways: Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that 34 million people in the U.S. are forecast to get at least 3 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence, with more than 5.7 million people probably getting at least a foot of rain.

In Washington, North Carolina, the wind-swept Pamlico River has risen beyond its banks and is flooding entire neighborhoods. Floodwaters submerged U.S. Highway 264, cutting off a major route to other flood-prone areas along the river and the adjacent Pamlico Sound.

Downtown New Bern, on the Neuse River also is flooded. The city tweeted early Friday that 150 people were awaiting rescue.

   ------

10 a.m.

Federal officials are urging anyone who ignored orders to evacuate from Hurricane Florence to hunker down and stay put until the storm passes.

And they say people who are truly in an emergency should call 911, not just Tweet about it.

The disaster area was expected to get about as much rain in three days as the 1999 Dennis and Floyd storms dropped in two weeks.

About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians have been deployed, with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats. The Army Corps of Engineers were preparing to start work restoring power, installing temporary roofing and removing debris.

Charley English of the American Red Cross said anyone wondering how to help from afar can donate blood, registering first at their local Red Cross websites.

   ------

9:30 a.m.

Wind speeds are kicking up far from the coast in central South Carolina as Hurricane Florence slowly makes its way along the coast.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 21 mph (34 kph) on Friday morning in Columbia.

That's about 220 miles (354 kilometers) from Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, where Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m. Friday, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

Wind gusts as high as 60 mph (96 kph) were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area.

   ------

9:10 a.m.

Forecasters say the eye of Hurricane Florence is wobbling slowly southwestward just off the coast of southeastern North Carolina, near the border with South Carolina.

The hurricane's top sustained winds have dropped to 85 mph (140 kph), while it moves slowly toward South Carolina at 6 mph (9 kph).

At 9 a.m. the center of the hurricane was about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east of Myrtle Beach.

   ------

9 a.m

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the U.S. electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm.

Speaking during a visit to Moscow less than an hour after the hurricane made landfall in North Carolina, Perry says "we've done this many times before. We know how to manage expectations. We know how to prepare our plants for these types of major events."

Perry says his department has been in contact with power companies and gas pipeline operators. He says that "over the years the state government and the federal government have become very coordinated in their ability to manage the pre-deployment of assets (and) the response to the citizens of those states, and we will soon be into the recovery."

More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.

   ------

8:15 a.m.

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

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

Coastal and river communities on the north side of Florence are getting the worst of the flooding as the hurricane swirls onto land pushing a life-threatening storm surge.

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

7:45 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence has finally made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina.

The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph), making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.

7:43 a.m.

Florence makes landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina as the Category 1 hurricane strikes coast.

7:15 a.m.

Forecasters say the center of the eye of Hurricane Florence is about to make landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina.

It remains a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph), but a gust of 112 mph (180 kph) was reported just offshore.

The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.

At 7 a.m., the center of the eye was located about 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Wilmington, moving west at 6 mph.

7 a.m.

It's about the water, not the wind, with Hurricane Florence making an extended stay along the North Carolina coast.

Forecasters say "it cannot be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland."

Top winds were holding at 90 mph -- that's just a Category 1 hurricane -- but some communities were already submerged in more than six feet of water as the storm drenched the coast.

6 a.m.

National Hurricane Center: Florence about to make landfall in N. Carolina causing life-threatening storm surge.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds.

As of 6 a.m., Florence was 10 miles (20 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

News 6's Erik Sandoval was live in Wilmington as the storm began to pound the area.

The Miami-based center says Florence is bringing "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas.

5:50 a.m.

A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence.

The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.

Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing.

None of the people rescued were injured.

5:00 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is about to make landfall in North Carolina bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and hurricane force winds.

As of 5 a.m., Florence was 25 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

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

 4:25 a.m.

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.

WXII-TV reports the city of New Bern said Friday that two out-of-state FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more teams were on the way. City spokeswoman Colleen Roberts tells WRAL-TV that 200 people have already been rescued.

The National Hurricane Center says the Neuse River near the city is recording more than 10 feet (3.05 meters) of inundation. Roberts says the storm surge continues to increase as Florence passes over the area.

The city warns that people "may need to move up to the second story" but tells them to stay put as "we are coming to get you."

4 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says the eyewall of Hurricane Florence is beginning to reach the North Carolina coast.

As of 4 a.m., Florence was 30 miles (45 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

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.

3:30 a.m.

Life-threatening storm surge is being reported along the coast of the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center said early Friday that a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently reported 6.3 feet (1.92 meters) of inundation. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles (135 kilometers) north of Wilmington.

As of 3 a.m., Florence hadn't moved and was still centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

2 a.m.

The National Hurricane Center says that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected over portions of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence inches closer to the U.S. East Coast.

The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph (135 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

As of 2 a.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.

11 p.m.

Hurricane Florence already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and more is to come.

Screaming winds bent trees and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday.

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph (135 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.

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