Hurricane Florence lashes U.S. east coast, triggers flood warnings

The tropical storm-force winds from Helene should begin impacting the Azores around 8 a.m. Monday.

The enduring Tropical Storm Helene is picking up speed and accelerating northward at 23 miles per hour with sustained winds of 65 miles per hour.

The Weather Channel produced a terrifying Hurricane Florence weather forecast using a visualization to show the horrifying reality of what 9-foot flood waters might look like in North Carolina. In Puerto Rico, much of the material had to be flown or shipped in - which didn't happen for more than a week, in some cases - and then had to be distributed by people who were also victims of the storm.

Florence, which has been branded a once in a lifetime hurricane, crashed into the coastline on Friday morning.

Forecasters said the Category 1 storm's extreme size meant it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day.

After that, Florence is forecast to move northwest and north and move across western SC on Sunday, Sept. 15, and across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, Sept. 16, the NHC said.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually make a right hook to the northeast over the southern Appalachians, moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England as a tropical depression by the middle of next week. Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes.

Airlines canceled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday.

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Heavy rain, wind gusts and rising floodwater from Florence swamped the Carolinas as the massive storm crawled toward the coast, threatening millions of people in its path with record rainfall and punishing surf.

Within hours of the storm making landfall, officials in Onslow County - which includes the city of Jacksonville, reported "major structural damage to homes, businesses and institutions".

In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River trapped people, and Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Charlotte Observer that about 200 had been rescued by 5 am Residents reached out for help through the night by phone and social media.

At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.

"I have no generator", said Petra Langston, a nurse.

Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out.

More than 1.7 million people in Virginia, North and SC were told to evacuate ahead of Florence's arrival.

The National Hurricane Center said a gauge north of Wilmington in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 1.92 metres of inundation. "We are totally prepared", Trump said at the White House.

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