Millions face Florence floods after 'epic' rainfall in Carolinas

"Not only are you going to see more impact across North Carolina this week ... but we're also anticipating you are about to see a lot of damage going through West Virginia, all the way up to OH as the system exits out", said Brock Long of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In Swansboro, North Carolina, almost 34 inches of rain had fallen by Sunday afternoon and 20 other places in North Carolina had at least 20 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Looting broke out in Wilmington, the coastal city that bore the brunt of Florence for three days, with two budget supermarkets targeted by residents. Almost 800,000 homes in North Carolina are without power and more is expected with gusting winds and fallen trees.

The death toll rose to at least 16 in North and SC, where roads were treacherous and even the most stately trees were falling.

The death toll from tropical storm Florence that made landfall in the United States east coast, has increased to 13, with authorities warning of continued rains and flooding.

In the past year, Florence marks the third tropical system to set a new state rainfall record after Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Lane in Hawaii.

Hundreds of thousands of homes across North and SC are without power and tens of thousands of people are in emergency shelters.

"The worst is yet to come", he added.

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Susan Bostic and her family gathered what few belongings they could carry and fled their home in Rocky Point, North Carolina, on Saturday.

In New Bern, about 90 miles northeast of Wilmington at the confluence of two rivers, Florence overwhelmed the town of 30,000 and left the downtown area under water. Authorities in the U.S. state of North Carolina have warned residents that flooding could get worse.

Five people were arrested for breaking into a Dollar General Store, said the police department in Wilmington, which has imposed a nighttime curfew.

"I think that the storm is likely going to produce impacts greater than Hurricane Matthew", Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina said on Fox News, referring to a Category 5 storm that struck in 2016, killing 26 in the state. A woman died in SC when her auto hit a fallen tree.

Remnants of the storm will touch down Monday evening, National Weather Service meteorologist Evan Heller said, with heavy rains moving in later on. As some of these areas have seen much above-normal rain since the spring and waterways are full, river flooding is a significant concern.

Rivers and creeks rose toward historic levels, threatening flash flooding that could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges. The storm is tracked to move across the western Carolinas and then curve over the Ohio Valley on Monday and Tuesday.

The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties. Trump, who plans to visit the region this week, tweeted his condolences. More than 2.4 million people were evacuated from China's southern Guangdong province ahead of the massive typhoon, the strongest to hit the region in almost two decades.

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