As of 4 p.m. Friday, the eye of Hurricane Florence is still moving slowly westward toward the North Carolina-South Carolina border, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The list of victims also includes a husband and wife who died in a house fire in Cumberland County, officials said. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air. "Most of them settle down for a few hours, but some of them won't eat". Sewage leaks increase the risk of outbreaks of infectious disease, said Louise Ivers, executive director for Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health, an infectious disease specialist. In all, about 420,000 homes and businesses in three states were in the dark. The woman had driven around barricades to reach a closed road, the sheriff's office in Union County, near North Carolina's border with SC, said on Facebook.
Winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power. The 22-year-old got stranded with his stalled auto in a dry patch on a service road parallel to Interstate 95, which was closed due to rising waters.
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.
Caudle said Hurricane Matthew had damaged some duct work but had not totally ruined his house almost two years ago. A gust of 105 miles per hour (169 kph) was recorded at Wilmington airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles (135 kilometers) north of Wilmington. "The threat of flooded roads keeps spreading", he said.
"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management.
In New Bern, a riverfront city near North Carolina's coast, Bryan Moore and his nephew Logan did exactly what authorities warned against: they left their homes to go swimming in the floodwaters after having spent days at home without electricity or running water. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.
Soon after the storm made landfall, rescue workers began to receive calls and requests for help, with hundreds of people reporting they were stuck amid flooding in communities near the coast of North Carolina.
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A tornado watch was issued for parts of North and SC as emergency management officials also warned of the potential for dam failures and landslides.
The National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings in Monday, after the two confirmed tornadoes hit the area, dealing major damage to at least one home, and minor damage to another.
While the city was cut off from the outside, streets in Wilmington were busy with motorists. Six people died in SC, including four in vehicle accidents and two from carbon monoxide from a portable generator.
Photos from the site provided to AP by Cape Fear River Watch, an environmental advocacy group, show cascades of gray-colored water spilling from at least two breaches at the landfill and flowing toward Sutton Lake, the plant's former cooling pond which is now used for public recreation, including fishing and boating.
The storm, which first hit the region last week, will be the USA's costliest hurricane of the year so far: AccuWeather estimated that Florence will cause $30 billion to $60 billion "in economic impact and damage".
Similar precautions were taken in Wayne County on the banks of the Neuse River, where a furniture store devastated by Matthew removed all its heavy merchandise before the expected storm.
Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was as slow and unprepared previous year for in Puerto Rico. Others were at home hoping for the best.
"We know that children have been ripped from the lives that they knew, and they're unsure of what the future may hold", Thompson said.