Florence strikes Carolina coast with life-threatening storm surge, flooding, power outages

Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach South Carolina early Friday

Sixteen people, including an infant, were killed as Florence battered the coast off North and SC on Friday and into Saturday. And that's when people found themselves trapped in their homes as the water rose.

The victims were a mother and infant, police said on Twitter.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm will travel through upstate SC, be downgraded to a tropical depression, then turn north toward the Ohio Valley.

It was initially unclear how many people ended up being rescued. Investigators said the fire started as a result by a candle that was being used during a power outage.

Sixty-seven-year-old Sadie Marie Holt was among those rescued Friday.

Jennifer Morales, 20, said there was 3 feet of water in her home.

The storm is forecast to creep along the coast, dumping lots of water and lashing the area with winds. "It may be a while before we can get to you". "Houses. Trees", Holt said.

Meanwhile in SC, more than 60 shelters accommodated over 5,600 people.

A dog is rescued from floodwaters in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

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In Morehead City, Brooke Kittrell rode out the storm Thursday and Friday with her boyfriend aboard their docked boat, hoping it didn't break loose and slam something.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than one million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia, jamming westbound roads and highways for miles.

More ominously, forecasters said the onslaught would last for hours and hours because Florence was barely creeping along at 6 mph and still drawing energy from the ocean.

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said North Carolina is likely to see eight months of rain in two to three days. By midnight, his rain gauge showed that he'd gotten 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain since midafternoon. He shone a flashlight through the glass.

"I have no generator", said Petra Langston, a nurse. "These were waves crashing down".

In a bit of good news, the governor said the state hasn't seen any storm-related fatalities so far - but there have been "several hundred" rescue operations and "there are still some people they need to get to".

The Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers may experience storm surges from 4 to 7 feet. Spending, meanwhile, fell more than 30 percent, or around $500 that week, and more than 65 percent on the day of landfall as businesses closed up shop and residents took shelter from the storm. "It came in slowly but then it just steady, just kept rising", Annazette Riley-Cromartie said.

But the water never quite made it to his home.

"Just dozens of calls just saying, 'the water is coming in the house, the water is now over the hood of my vehicle".

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