Even as Florence weakens, flooding is still a major threat

Credit PA

"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing about a storm that forecasters said was 300 miles (480 km) wide.

"Remember: Most storm deaths occur from drowning in fresh water, often in cars", he said.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has been lashed by torrential rains and near-hurricane force winds, CBS News correspondent Don Dahler reported. Rescue crews have used boats to reach hundreds besieged by the rising waters. Numerous roads were closed, and authorities warned of potential landslides, as well the possibility of flood waters imperiling dams and bridges as rivers and creeks swelled.

Along with this projection, NHC warned of "life-threatening" storm surges and floods throughout both North Carolina and SC.

So far, at least three people have died because of the storm, including a mother and infant who were in a Mercer Avenue house when it was struck by a felled tree.

"The fact that there haven't been more deaths and damage is incredible and a blessing", said Rebekah Roth, walking around Wilmington's Winoca Terrace neighborhood on Saturday. It continues to chug west, slowing down from 5 miles per hour to 2 miles per hour.

Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will become a tropical storm tomorrow (Sept. 15) over SC, continue northwest to eastern Kentucky, then swing northeast and track over most of New England early next week.

She estimated 441,000 people have already evacuated because of the storm. Fort Bragg, a sprawling U.S. Army base, is just west of Fayetteville.

Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, could be in for heavy rains as Florence plods inland.

The storm's movement, not its strength, has forecasters and officials anxious.

A pet dog licked Johan Mackie's face after he helped rescue Kevin Knox's family from their flooded brick home.

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

The town of Oriental had gotten more than 18 inches of rain just a few hours into the deluge, while Surf City had 14 inches and it was still coming down.

The military announced Saturday morning it was deploying almost 200 soldiers to assist in Hurricane Florence response and recovery efforts, along with 100 trucks and equipment.

The reporter, Mike Seidel, was reporting from Wilmington, N.C., Friday afternoon, where he was shown hunched over and appearing to brace against a strong wind.

- Authorities in the coastal city of New Bern were working with federal responders to rescue at least 150 residents who reported themselves stranded in Hurricane Florence's storm surge.

Some local residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit early on Friday.

"That's a decision I had to make", he said.

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

"The cost to SC, if that happens, if the storm continues the way it is going, could be in the billions", Dahler said.

"Life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over portions of the Carolinas and the southern to central Appalachians from western North Carolina into west-central Virginia through early next week, as Florence moves slowly inland", the NHC statement read.

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