North Carolina Governor: Go to a safe place and stay there

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The storm's first casualties, which included a mother and her baby killed when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina, were announced about eight hours after Florence came ashore.

Hurricane Florence, weakened but still risky, has crashed into the Carolinas on Friday as a giant, slow-moving storm that stranded residents with floodwaters and swamped part of the town of New Bern at the beginning of what could be a days-long deluge.

A man crosses a flooded street in downtown Wilmington, N.C., after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm, after barreling into North Carolina with damaging winds and heavy rain, leaving at least five people dead.

The National Hurricane Center said the area should also expect "life-threatening" storm surges, hurricane-strength wind gusts and "catastrophic" fresh water flooding as Hurricane Florence slowly churns inland. The father was also home, and he was taken to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment.

A woman in Hampstead, in Pender County, died of an apparent heart attack after emergency crews could not clear debris to get to her. But these winds combined with a giant storm surge and deluge of rain are brewing havoc along the coast. Hundreds of miles inland, Charlotte Douglas International Airport already has more than 300 flight cancellations for Thursday and Friday, according to FlightAware.

"To those in the storm's path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place", he said at a news conference in Raleigh, adding that Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days".

And Hurricane Florence, though far from the fastest-windspeed storm in recent memory, remains a significant threat precisely due to the large surge and huge rainfall it's dumping on affected areas.

Tropical Storm Florence is practically stalled over the Carolinas and the monster storm could dump drenching rains of up to 3½ feet (1 meter).

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More than 60 people, including an infant, children and their pets, were rescued from a collapsing hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, at the height of the storm, according to the Associated Press.

Hurricane-force winds extend up to 80 miles from the eye of Florence, while tropical-storm force winds can be felt up to 195 miles away.

At 8 p.m. Friday, Florence was centered about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east-southeast of Florence, South Carolina.

For 62 years, Robert Faircloth has lived in Wilmington, North Carolina.

"We won't be out of danger", he said.

US President Donald Trump announced on Friday evening that he would visit the areas ravaged by Florence's devastating force.

Parts of the Carolinas are expected to see 20 to 30 inches of rain over the next seven days.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city tweeted during the height of the storm.

"A USGS gauge in Emerald Isle, N.C., recently recorded 6.1 feet above normal water levels", the National Hurricane Center said of the storm surge early Friday.

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