Hurricane Florence has made landfall in North Carolina, but its crawling pace and overwhelming storm surges are setting up hours and hours of destruction and human suffering - with dozens desperately awaiting rescue in one flooded town alone.
Later downgraded to a tropical storm, slow-moving Florence arrived over North and SC just after 7am local time on Friday, bringing torrential rain and severe floods.
The White House said Friday U.S. President Donald Trump will travel to areas hit by Hurricane Florence next week, once it has been determined that his travel would not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts.
"We are expecting several more days of rain", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said, describing the amount of rainfall from the hurricane as a "1,000-year event".
That's not to say the dangers of Hurricane Florence aren't serious.
The Ahold Delhaize USA chain said on its website that it has temporarily shut 126 stores in North Carolina, 53 in SC and four in Virginia. Scientists say they are wetter, possess more energy and intensify faster.
This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence on the eastern coast of the United States on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.
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The city warns that people "may need to move up to the second story" but tells them to stay put as "we are coming to get you".
In Wilmington, near where the eye of the hurricane touched down, trees and power lines were down and many windows had been broken.
Authorities said more than 60 people, including many children and pets, had to be evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse. On the morning of September 14, the National Hurricane Centre warned that "catastrophic" flooding and "life-threatening" storm surges were expected to spread inland.
A mother and infant in North Carolina were among the first reported fatalities linked to Hurricane Florence.
Five million people are at risk with warnings of possible landslides and flooding.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 68 trillion litres of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.
Hurricane Florence began lashing the coast Thursday morning, sending pounding waves ashore and rising storm surge.
NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook the storm surges could push as far as 2 miles (3 km) inland. "I wonder how it would have been with a Category 4 or 5?" said Mason Tarr, standing on the steps of the building where he sought shelter the night before.
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By Friday evening, the centre of the storm had moved to eastern SC , with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour . The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.
People have been ordered to evacuate the Carolinas ahead of strong winds and heavy rain as the hurricane lands. At 11 a.m., the center of the system was about 190 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.
Additionally, there will be damaging winds that could top 100 miles per hour, isolated tornadoes, and "devastating" storm surge. The National Hurricane Center said Monday the monster storm will be close to Category 5 strength by Tuesday.
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If confirmed by the National Weather Service , this number would break the state record for rainfall from a tropical cyclone. The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.
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