Florence’s ‘violent grind’ leaves at least four dead in Carolinas

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Mandatory evacuations were ordered ahead of Florence's landfall in parts of North and SC, though many people chose to remain in their homes for reasons ranging from financial concerns and the need to care for pets that they may not have been able to take to some evacuation shelters, some who stayed in their residences told ABC News ahead of the storm. Its winds were down to 45 miles per hour. Tens of thousands were ordered evacuated from communities along the state's steadily rising rivers - with the Cape Fear, Little River, Lumber, Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers all projected to burst their banks. Mackie rode in a boat through a flooded neighbourhood, navigating through trees and past a fencepost to get to the Knox house.

"We will do whatever it takes to keep the American people safe", Trump said.

Woody White, chairman of the board of commissioners of New Hanover County, said officials were planning for food and water to be flown into the coastal city of almost 120,000 people.

Morehead City, North Carolina, had received 23 inches of rain by Friday night, and forecasters warned on Saturday morning that parts of the Carolinas could get up to 15 inches more.

The previous record, 17.45 inches, was set during Tropical Storm Beryl in 1994. "It'll be ugly, but we'll get through it", Long told NBC's "Meet The Press".

Florence flattened trees, buckled buildings and crumpled roads.

In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River left 500 people in peril.

Near Gilbert, also in Lexington County, Florence's winds pulled the entire roof off a mobile home on Wire Road, exposing the home's bare wooden beams as rain was expected to continue falling for hours.

"Please send help": Florence storm surge leaves 100 stranded in NC city
North Carolina is the largest tobacco grower and ranks second among USA states in hog inventory and producing broiler chickens. The National Weather Service office in Newport, North Carolina, in a tweet called the storm surge "catastrophic".

Coast Guard helicopters were taking off across the street to rescue stranded people from rooftops and swamped cars.

Even as the winds abated, the waters rose.

Marines rescued about 20 civilians from floodwaters near Camp Lejeune, using Humvees and amphibious assault vehicles, the base reported. Not far away, Jackie and Quinton Washington watched water filling both their front and back yards near the river. Hurricane Matthew sent more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water into their home in 2016, and the couple feared Florence would run them out again.

At 8 a.m. Saturday, Florence stalled about 35 miles (55 kilometres) west of Myrtle Beach, moving forward at just 2 mph (4 kph), with top sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph).

In North Carolina, a mother and infant died when a tree fell on their house, a 78-year-old man was electrocuted while plugging in a generator in the rain, a 77-year-old man died after being blown to the ground while checking on his hunting dogs, and a sheriff's office said three people died because of "flash flooding and swift water on roadways.".

EPA spokesman John Konkus said the agency is listening for any word of oil or hazardous substance spills from first responders, media reports and state and local emergency command posts.

As much as 30 inches of rain has already fallen in southeast North Carolina, and as much as 15 inches is still expected across the state, plus a lot more inland from the coast through Sunday.

On a call with Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and NC Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, President Trump "assured each elected official that the federal government stood ready and prepared to assist with anything their state and respective communities would need during this natural disaster".