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.
Gusts of winds in the 50 to 100 mph hour range were also reported since Hurricane Florence came ashore at 7:15 a.m. Friday, and the National Hurricane Center predicted trees would be knocked down. "This large-scale feature is expected to keep the hurricane moving northwestward today, followed by a turn toward the west at a much slower speed on Friday as the ridge to the north of Florence weakens due to a weak shortwave trough dropping slowly southward from the Ohio Valley". Scores of trees and power lines had fallen on roads throughout Wilmington as of Friday afternoon.
Hurricane Florence has caused some damage to Wilmington International Airport, said Gary Broughton, the airport's deputy director. US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed declarations of emergency for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, freeing up federal resources for storm response. As of 1 p.m. ET, the storm's sustained winds dropped to 75 miles per hour as it wobbled west-southwestward near the coast, delaying its expected move inland, the National Hurricane Center said.
Forecasters have been predicting catastrophic flash flooding.
By mid-afternoon the winds had dropped to 75 miles per hour (120 kph) and the center was moving west at 6 miles per hour (10 kph), the NHC said, and parts of North and SC would get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter).
A North Carolina city situated between two rivers says it has around 150 people waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters from Hurricane Florence. "We're going to have to have patience, we're going to have to be careful and we're going to have to deal with a lot of water".
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz REFILE - CORRECTING GRAMMAR AND TYPO IN CITY NAME A family is stalled in water as they wait to be rescued during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. Traffic lights out of order because of power failures swayed in the gusty wind.
Airlines canceled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday.
"Pretty soon I had a hundred of my closest friends out here helping us out", Britt said. More than a dozen major rivers in the Carolinas and southern Virginia are forecast by the National Weather Service to reach flood stage, and some - including the Neuse, Pamlico, Lumber, Waccamaw, Northeast Cape Fear and the Pee Dee rivers - are expected to set all-time flood records. Then came the water.
"I have no generator", said Petra Langston, a nurse.
The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed. Jennifer Morales, 20, said there was 3 feet of water in her home.
The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.
Prior to Hurricane Florence's landfall, more than 1.7 million were ordered to evacuate the coast.
Winds bent trees towards the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power.