For meteorologists, Hurricane Florence is a horrific nightmare storm

Florence track

Florence track

Wilmington Police reported on Twitter that a tree fell on a house on Mercer Avenue, killing the pair around 9:30 a.m.

Firefighters and rescue crews pray in front of a home after removing a resident trapped inside during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and into the northeastern coast of SC in spots.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 3.4 metres of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 0.9 metres of rain, touching off severe flooding.

A tropical storm warning is in now effect for Chesterfield, Lee, Sumter, Clarendon, Calhoun, Orangeburg, Lancaster, Kershaw, Fairfield, Richland, and Lexington counties, according to NWS Columbia.

In the besieged North Carolina town of New Bern, rescuers plucked more than 100 people from rising waters, but about 150 more had to wait when conditions worsened and a storm surge reached 10 feet. It also led many people to mock the reporter for his demeanor reporting on the storm.

On Thursday evening, the Neuse River burst its banks which caused rapid flooding in New Bern, North Carolina, forcing residents to flee as the entire city lost power.

Adding to the storm stress is uncertainty about where exactly Florence will make landfall, after a shift in its track put more of the Southeast in danger.

The Miami-based center says Florence is bringing "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas.

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More than 60 people, including an infant, children and their pets, were rescued from a collapsing hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, at the height of the storm, according to the Associated Press.

Florence plowed into the Carolinas and lumbered slowly inland on Friday, knocking down trees, gorging rivers, dumping sheets of rain and leaving five people dead before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.

Weather.com says of the expected storm surges: "A destructive storm surge will accompany the eye coming ashore sometime from Thursday night into Friday or Saturday, and coastal flooding may persist through multiple high tide cycles into this weekend east of the center of Florence". The streets were mostly deserted and some were blocked by fallen trees.

Forecasters say catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected over parts of North Carolina and SC ahead.

"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.

Prior to Hurricane Florence's landfall, more than 1.7 million were ordered to evacuate the coast. States of emergency have already been declared in both North and SC.

Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore.

Florence also blew down trees, including one that went through the roof of Kevin DiLoreto's home in Wilmington. Cooper cited a National Weather Service forecast that said almost the entire state could be covered in several feet of water. "The combination of a risky storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline".

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