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Hurricane Florence: Woman, baby die after tree falls on house

Hurricane Florence: Woman, baby die after tree falls on house

Hurricane Florence has killed at least three people after it crashed on North Carolina's coast on Friday.

The effects of Hurricane Florence have already arrived on the East Coast of the U.S., where massive floods have already begun and as much asthe National Hurricane Center forecasts 40 inches of rain and 11 feet of flooding from the storm surge.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably a 7" in terms of worry, she said.

The Category 1 storm is now gusting at wind speeds of about 90 miles per hour with heavy rain and storm surges expected for the region.

Cooper said Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days". The non-emergency call center for Hurricane Florence is 919-996-2999.

Many residents along the coast were issued mandatory evacuations, with forecasters warning of "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding".

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The top wind gusts were reported in Raleigh are at 39 miles per hour.

At 9 a.m., the center of Florence was wobbling about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of Wilmington, its winds down to 85 mph (140 kmh), according to the hurricane center.

Emergency response teams have been "fully pre-positioned" to help local governments and companies like utilities cope with the damage Florence will leave, Long said - but the storm has to leave.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and SC with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.

Officials said people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won't go out to help in winds above 50 miles per hour.

No storm-related deaths or serious injuries were reported in the hours immediately after Florence hit but authorities said more than 60 people, including many children and pets, had to be evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse.

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The governor maintained his declaration even as the storm appeared to follow a more southerly track than projections earlier in the week.

Hurricane Florence wasn't expected to make landfall until later Friday morning, but residents in coastal areas were already losing power as fierce gusts lashed the eastern edge of North Carolina.

Winds and rain were arriving later in SC, and a few people were still walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach while North Carolina was getting pounded.

More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved out of the storm's path.

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. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines.

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