'Relentless rains' continue as Florence almost stalls over Carolinas

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South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster asked people to remain patient during a last-minute news conference before Hurricane Florence begins to impact the state.

By Friday night the center of the storm had moved to eastern SC, about 15 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

It remains a Category 1 hurricane with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), but a gust of 112 miles per hour (180 kph) was reported just offshore.

"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.

At 7 a.m., the center of the eye was located about 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Wilmington, moving west at 6 mph.

Government aid can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-priced loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of Hurricane Florence.

The hurricane center said the storm will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

- The outer bands of Hurricane Florence, which has downgraded to a Category 2 storm, have reached the Carolina coastline as of Thursday morning.

On the mainland in New Bern, authorities said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater. "The water started rising and we evacuated nearly an entire TV station in about 15 minutes". More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

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The water "is as high as it's ever been and waves are breaking on my point, which is normally grass", said Copeland, a freelance photographer for The Associated Press. Calls for help kept coming in as the wind picked up and the tide arrived, said city public information officer Colleen Roberts. Roberts says the storm surge continues to increase as Florence passes over the area.

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

"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.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest Florence update at 10am BST that a storm surge warning remained in effect for Myrtle Beach in SC to the Ocracoke Inlet in North Carolina, and for Pamlico Sound.

Life-threatening storm surge is being reported along the coast of the Carolinas.

"It's important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete, and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1:00 a.m. ET this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted", the network said. "I mean this takes a long time to move through the Carolinas". Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 miles per hour (9 kph).

Storm surges, punishing winds and rain are turning some towns into rushing rivers - and the Category 1 hurricane is expected to crawl over parts of the Carolinas into the weekend, pounding some of the same areas over and over.

To put the rain in perspective, Wilmington's three-day rainfall record was 19.66 inches set in 2010, said Jordan Baker, a meteorologist with the NWS Wilmington office. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

Travel is extremely hazardous because of storm surge, Trogdon said, and will only get worse.

Sib McLellan, left, and his wife, Lisa, prepare for Hurricane Florence.

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