THREATENING storm surges and NINE FOOT floods

‘Catastrophic’ flooding expected by NHC; Hurricane Florence eyewall now reaching North Carolina coast

Hurricane Florence approaches landfall in North Carolina; more than 80,000 without power

Hurricane Florence, as seen from the International Space Station.

North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 0715 EDT near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 150 kilometres per hour, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Florence made landfall about 7:15 a Category 1 hurricane, with winds of about 90 miles per hour.

Areas threatened: Hurricane warnings and storm surge warnings are in effect for South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina. "As Florence moves inland, we'll see more rain and more flooding from our rivers".

"Damaging hurricane-force winds are occurring along portions of the North Carolina coast and are expected to spread to portions of the SC coast" later on Friday.

Another woman who was rescued by another group in New Bern told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360˚" that she and her family thought they would be safe in their brick home and heard the storm had been downgraded from a Category 4.

Florence's rain will reach 40 inches in some parts of the Carolina coasts and gusty winds will send the ocean and rivers spilling into neighborhoods, forecasters said.

Currently, Florence is 34.2°N and 77.2°W and is about 45 km east of Wilmington, North Carolina and 80 km southwest of Morehead City, North Carolina, moving in a west-northwest direction at the speed of 9 km per hour. Life threatening storm surges and strong winds will continue overnight, as tropical-storm-force winds extend 175 miles from the center.

News 6's Erik Sandoval was live in Wilmington as the storm began to pound the area.

As Florence raged, a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico brought heavy rain to already saturated areas along the Texas coast, resulting in street flooding and prompting some schools to cancel or cut short classes.

Lower winds and lesser storm surges extended along the entire Atlantic coastline of North Carolina and much of the SC coast as well.

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"A basketball sized hole was found in a corner room by an Officer", officials said.

As of 5 a.m., Florence was 25 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Residents and business owners around downtown came out from their hiding places as early as 8:30 a.m. Friday, about an hour after the eyewall of Florence had passed through.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate and authorities urged them to get going before the streets become inundated.

New Bern, N.C., officials reported on Twitter that about 150 people were waiting to be rescued, and two Federal Emergency Management Agency teams were in the area.

"In a matter of seconds, my house was flooded up to the waist, and now it is to the chest", said Peggy Perry, who along with three relatives, was trapped early Friday in her New Bern home. Some scattered showers and storms will be possible on Sunday, but rainfall totals should not go over one inch.

Winds bent trees toward 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.

More than 485,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said.

As the storm widens - and lingers - Florence has increased potential to produce tornadoes, flash flooding, mudslides and a catastrophic storm surge.

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