Florence downgraded to tropical storm

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

"Two people in Wilmington were killed when a tree fell on their home", Cooper said.

Wilmington police tweeted that the father was transported to the hospital with unspecified injuries.

At least four people were killed.

The fourth person who died was a man in Lenoir County who was hooking up a generator, Gov. Roy Cooper's office said. As forecasters warned the hurricane could lead to potentially catastrophic flooding. As of early Friday afternoon, 20 inches of rain had already fallen in parts of North Carolina - and some resolution models are predicting that by Sunday, the southeastern part of the state could see 50 inches of rain. The agency is primarily warning residents about heavy storm surge and heavy rainfall.

Florence is expected to dump several feet of rain on the Carolinas as she makes a slow push inland over the next few days.

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted Florence would drop up to eight months' worth of rain in two or three days. "But I think we're ready".

Due to downed trees, emergency crews were unable to get to the woman before she passed away. "I don't know how long it's going to be before the water actually starts to come into the apartment".

In New Bern, where rescuers removed more than 100 people from rising waters, Sarah Risty-Davis is one of the residents who made a decision to ignore a mandatory evacuation order issued three days ago.

On the mainland in New Bern, authorities said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater.

Shaken after seeing waves crashing in the Neuse River just outside his house in the town of New Bern, hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.

"It's like a bomb has gone off", Zaytoun told "Good Morning America" Friday.

Zaytoun now regrets his decision, he said.

Swift-water rescue teams from out of state helped local rescuers evacuate people whenever conditions allowed.

County officials said there is a high probability the banks of the Cape Fear River will overflow at a level higher than what occurred during Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

For people living inland in the Carolinas, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

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