Mike Seidel was reporting for The Weather Channel and was bravely digging his heels into the ground in an attempt to maintain balance in the adverse conditions.
In Pender County, North Carolina, a woman suffered a heart attack and died because hurricane debris blocking roads prevented paramedics from reaching her. The governor's office said a man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords in the rain.
Wind and the tidal surge will be the biggest issues for airports in the coastal Carolinas, FlightAware's Orsi said. Florence touched down early Friday as a category 1 storm with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, quickly knocking out power.
As the storm moves inland, forecasters warned, the surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding.
"We're not going to be satisfied until the last resident is rescued and in a shelter, and then we can assess damages and go from there", New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw said, according to the Herald Sun of North Carolina.
About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm. Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.
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Hours earlier, streets along the coast had been transformed into raging streams, and massive waves surged along the Outer Banks. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and theyre seeing the floodwaters rise".
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 a.m. Residents reached out for help through the night by phone and social media. They ventured out in life jackets into the waste-deep water to tie the boat and another floating by to a tree. "We have also gotten calls from family members anxious about relatives they can't reach".
"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. "Everybody laughs at the fact that this storm got downgraded. but I've never seen tree devastation this bad".
Rain is forecast to continue through the weekend, bringing risky flooding conditions to many areas of North Carolina.
More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing cinderblock motel at the height of the storm. Numerous evacuees took their pets.
U.S. President Donald Trump took a moment on Friday to thank those responding to emergencies across the Carolinas.
Utility officials say almost 900,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Carolinas on Friday and more were expected to lose power.
By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakened to 112 km/h as it moved forward at 6km/h about 25 kilometres north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend.