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Thousands without power in Charlotte area as Tropical Storm Florence approaches

Thousands without power in Charlotte area as Tropical Storm Florence approaches

But the hurricane had slowed to a crawl as it traced the North Carolina-South Carolina shoreline, drenching coastal communities for hours on end.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper confirmed at least five storm-related deaths, and warned people who fled their homes against going back too soon.

Farther up the coast, in New Bern, about 150 people waited to be rescued from flooding on the Neuse River, WXII-TV reported.

George Pace returned to his neighborhood and saw his home for the first time, expecting the worst, but discovering only minimal damage.

It said it also provided assistance to local governments for clean-up efforts following the storm, including building repairs.

Even as the winds abated, the waters rose. This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall: "in some places, measured in feet, not inches".

Firefighters pray at an operation to remove a tree that fell on a house injuring resident during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018.

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In a separate briefing, Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said some areas have already received two feet of rain and could expect up to 20 inches more as the system moved "slowly, almost stationary" over eastern North Carolina. About 400 people have been rescued.

"This is one of the most devastating hurricanes we've ever had", Mayor Dana Outlaw told CNN.

In North Carolina, unrelenting rains were expected to swell the Cape Fear River to 62 feet next week, 3 feet higher than during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

- A mother and her 8-month-old child were killed when a massive tree crushed their brick house Friday, according to a tweet from Wilmington, North Carolina police.

The third death happened in Hampstead, Pender County when a woman had a medical emergency and EMS crews could not get to her due to the storm, according to Tom Collins, Director of Emergency Management. And a man was knocked to the ground while outside and died, authorities said. Power outages are widespread including over 740,000 in North Carolina and 163,000 in SC.

The White House said President Trump will tour areas affected by Florence next week, once it is determined that his visit will not disrupt rescue and recovery operations.

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

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The military announced Saturday it was deploying almost 200 soldiers to assist in storm-related response and recovery efforts, along with 100 trucks and equipment. Hundreds more had to be rescued elsewhere from rising waters.

Hurricane Florence is battering North Carolina with wild winds and a powerful storm surge.

Two people also died in Harkers Island, North Carolina, on Friday, Carteret County Director of Emergency Services Stephen Rea said Saturday.

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

The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed. The streets were mostly deserted, some blocked by fallen trees.

Moss said a tornado watch remains in effect for counties to the south and east of the Triangle until 7 a.m. and tropical storm warnings remain in effect for a large portion of the state.

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