Florence pours on the rain amid fears of catastrophic floods

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More than a day after Florence's eye passed through southeastern North Carolina, a slower, and potentially more destructive threat emerged: pounding rains and a storm surge that pushed rivers over their banks, overflowing into small inland towns.

The governor of North Carolina on Saturday, September 15 warned residents displaced by a killer storm against returning home because of the dangers posed by rising floodwaters.

"I can not overstate it: flood waters are rising".

Some towns have already had more than 60-centimetres of rain, and forecasters warn that totals could hit one-metre. National Hurricane Center meteorologist Joel Cline said the mountains will wring water out of the moist tropical air: "It's like running into a wall, and that moisture has to go somewhere, and it goes up, creates rain, and you have torrential rain in that area".

At 2 p.m., the hurricane center said Florence had maximum sustained winds near 45 miles per hour (75 km per hour) and continued to produce catastrophic flooding in the Carolinas.

As much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain could fall on coastal areas in North and SC, the National Hurricane Center said. They ventured out in life jackets into the waste-deep water to tie the boat and another floating by to a tree.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division called the insurance rumor "FALSE" over social media, saying that the claim had spread to SC residents. Rivers will continue to rise days after the rain has stopped, he said. Its winds were down to 40 miles per hour. In the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores could get gusty winds and heavy rains from Tropical Storm Helene this weekend, while Isaac regained tropical storm strength after earlier weakening in the Caribbean Sea.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm as it moved further inland in the days ahead.

Coast Guard helicopters were taking off across the street to rescue stranded people from rooftops and swamped cars.

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The storm's center is crawling inland over SC, but many of its main rain bands still are over already-saturated North Carolina - setting up what may be days of flooding for some communities.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the US electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm. Morehead City, North Carolina, had received 23 inches (58 centimeters) of rain by Friday night with more torrents on the way.

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

The storm's first casualties, which included a mother and her baby killed when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina, were announced about eight hours after Florence came ashore on Friday (local time). Rescue crews used boats to carry more than 360 people from rising water, while many of their neighbors awaited help.

In South Carolina, a 62-year-old woman died when her vehicle hit a tree that had fallen across a road in the town of Union.

Two others died in the state from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator inside their home, according to a local coroner.

As of noon, Swansboro, North Carolina, had almost 31 inches of rain, Emerald Isle had over 23, and Wilmington and Goldsboro had about a foot. Super Typhoon Mangkhut was expected to hit an area in the Philippines on Saturday that would affect 5.2 million people.

The hurricane center said the storm will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

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