Hurricane Florence pounds US East Coast with heavy rain

Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina

Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90 miles per hour winds and terrifying storm surge early Friday, ripping apart buildings and knocking out power to a half-million homes and businesses as it settled in for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching.

Roberts says the storm surge continues to increase as Florence passes over the area. In its 7 a.m. ET update, the National Hurricane Center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently recorded 6.1 feet above normal water levels.

Florence's circulation was pushing water ashore, especially north of its eye, in coastal or riverside towns like New Bern and Belhaven, turning land to lakes. More than 500,000 homes and businesses are without electricity in North and SC.

This next video shows destruction to parts of the dock and various boats in New Bern, also courtesy LSM Brandon Clement.

Rescue workers are scrambling to rescue 150 people trapped by rising flood waters in the coastal city of New Bern, North Carolina.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted about 2 a.m.

Almost 300,000 customers in North Carolina were reported to be without power as the outer band of the storm approached.

North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had about 7 inches.

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3 feet of rain were considered an even bigger threat than its winds, which dropped way down from a terrifying 140 miles per hour - Category 4 - earlier in the week.

The storm's center is crawling over SC, but many of its main rain bands still are over already-saturated North Carolina - setting up what may be days of flooding for some communities. The wind weakened, because earlier this week his speed was 225 km/h.

Gov. Roy Cooper said 500 National Guard personnel have responded to calls for help in North Carolina, though there were no known fatalities yet attributed to the storm. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".

The centre of the hurricane made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina, bringing with it life-threatening storm surges and 90mph winds.

That kind of scenario is likely to repeat itself all over communities in Eastern North Carolina, as swollen rivers flood towns and the pouring rain adds to the misery.

Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said.

More than 60 people, including many children and pets, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse, local officials said.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

Additional states have declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, including Georgia and the District of Columbia. "Those citizens that did not heed the evacuation warnings, it's time to stay where you are and do the best you can" to protect yourself and your family. One was electrocuted while hooking up a generator and the other while checking on his dogs outside, emergency officials said. "I'm not leaving him here".

Still, some residents ignored calls to evacuate.

"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", he said. "I learned from the past to keep the ice in the washing machine".

Perched on his porch, carpenter Tony Albright was calmly waiting for Florence's arrival, beer in hand.