Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm, and has left at least four people dead after it made landfall Friday on North Carolina's coast bringing damaging winds, heavy rain and a massive storm surge.
Police in Wilmington say a mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house. Another woman in Pender County, NC, died from a heart attack after calling emergency services, as paramedics could not reach her because of fallen trees. The North Carolina governor's office said a fourth person was killed while plugging in a generator.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence's winds have slowed to tropical storm strength, and is moving slowly inland in southeastern North Carolina with sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour (68 mph) and higher gusts. The storm is expected to continue on that path and begin lashing eastern South Carolina Friday night and Saturday.
The storm's movement, not its strength, has forecasters and officials worried.
Florence is moving inland at 10 kilometers per hour (6 mph) — giving it more time to churn, suck up water, batter the coast, and bring massive amounts of rain inland.
Hundreds of people in North Carolina have been rescued from rising water. In Craven County, NC, authorities say they received more than 150 telephone calls to rescue people in the historic town of New Bern because water had entered their homes.
New Bern resident Latasha Jones is one of the more fortunate ones. “The evacuation was county wide but since we're not in a flood zone, we weren't really worried about that,” she told VOA.
“The way our house sits, it’s elevated. We have steps on the sides of the house so it's a few feet off the ground anyway. And since we’re already on high ground, those two things together kind of help insulate us a little more than, I would say, others,” she said.
The hurricane center predicts as much as 101 centimeters (40 inches) of rain for some parts of North Carolina.
The White House said Friday U.S. President Donald Trump will travel to areas hit by Hurricane Florence next week, once it has been determined that his travel would not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts.
WATCH: Hurricane Florence Comes Ashore