Millions face Florence floods after 'epic' rainfall in Carolinas

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"This is still a catastrophic, life-threatening storm", said Mr Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Center's Weather Prediction Center. "If those shelters fill up, we will establish more shelters", Cooper said. When the sun finally comes out later this week, it's going to take a long time to dry out.

With the eye of Florence stalled near the coast, the half of the storm still out over the Atlantic continued to collect warm ocean water and dump it on land.

As the death toll from Florence grew and hundreds of people were pulled from flooded homes, North Carolina braced for catastrophic, widespread river flooding that could be the next stage of a mounting disaster.

Cooper, however, said the storm, which was downgraded to a tropical depression early Sunday, prevented officials from seeing the full scope of the damage.

Gov. Cuomo also announced that he would be sending first responders to help with the hurricane response effort.

Through Sunday midday, numerous locations in southeast North Carolina had endured more than 20 inches of rain, with Onslow and Carteret counties being hit particularly hard. State Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said one of his top priorities was determining how to restore ground access to the area.

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Flash flood watches are in effect across much of North Carolina, northern SC, portions of Western Virginia, southern and eastern West Virginia, central and western Maryland, central and western Pennsylvania, southern NY and southern New England.

James Berthold checks on his van stuck in floodwaters in Newport, N.C.

The Cape Fear River is expected to crest at about 25 feet on Monday.

On a flooded road near New Bern, Bryan Moore and his nephew Logan made a decision to go swimming in the floodwaters after having spent days at home without electricity or running water.

"People who need to be evacuated have been evacuated".

"Our roads are flooded", Woody White, chairman of the county Board of Commissioners, said Sunday at a news conference.

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About 509,000 homes and businesses were without electricity on Monday in North and SC and surrounding states. "If the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water".

At least 18 people were killed in the storm.

Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 796,000 customers in that state and SC, reports CNN.

Around 50 stranded people were airlifted by helicopter in North Carolina, said Petty Officer Michael Himes of the US Coast Guard. Another 30 sites in North and Carolina had at least 10 inches.

Video from WXII 12 News show the animals struggling to cross a road in neck-deep water in New Bern, North Carolina.

Duke Energy said heavy rains caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station outside Wilmington late Saturday, but there was no indication contamination had drained into the nearby Cape Fear River. It was moving west at 8 miles per hour, whipping 35 miles per hour winds.

Shelters Fill Up As Hurricane Florence Bears Down
On Friday , the storm's center will hug the coast of southeast North Carolina, where the most severe effects are expected. WTOP's Steve Dresner, who is in Morehead City, North Carolina, described the scene just after 10 p.m.

The deadly storm was still dumping rain and had top winds around 30 miles per hour (50 kph) early Monday, but forecasters said it was expected to gradually pick up forward speed and complete a big turn toward the Northeast.