Over 895,000 without power as Florence batters Carolinas

Over 895,000 without power as Florence batters Carolinas

More than 722,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of the state in several feet of water.

And while Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon, meteorologists predict heavy rain - up to 2 feet of rain when all is said and done - will continue into the weekend.

More than 360 people were rescued as of midafternoon Friday, but another 140 were still waiting for help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts told the Associated Press.

"The fact that there haven't been more deaths and damage is unbelievable and a blessing", said Rebekah Roth, walking around Wilmington's Winoca Terrace neighborhood on Saturday.

The storm was about 35 miles east of Wilmington, N.C., and about 50 miles southwest of Morehead City, N.C., the National Hurricane Center's 2 a.m. EDT Friday advisory said.

At one point, the 350-mile-wide but slow-moving storm packed winds so fierce that "CBS Evening News" anchor Jeff Glor almost lost contact with CBS News' New York studio during the morning broadcast. When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell - and combined with high tide, made for risky flooding. He added that there would be no mercy for those who try to steal from others' homes during the storm.

The mother and baby are among five storm-related deaths.

Florence had been a Category-3 hurricane on Thursday but dropped to Category-1 before coming ashore. The information line is staffed around the clock to connect North Carolinians to storm resources. The hurricane center downgraded Florence to a tropical storm later in the day.

As Florence moves further inland over the coming days, the storm is expected to gradually weaken. The child's father was transported to the hospital with injuries. In the state´s Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.

Officials say two people died in Lenoir County.

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

Significant flooding was being reported Friday along the Neuse, Pamlico and Pungo rivers in coastal North Carolina due to storm surge. Carteret County officials said Saturday that two people had died there, but the cause of those deaths couldn't be determined.

"We've got a massive amount of cleanup to do", Saffo said.

Some local residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit early on Friday.

"There's a little bit of apprehension as you can imagine", said Major Mark Craddock with the Salvation Army of Cape Fear, who was hunkered down with about 30 others at the organization's shelter in downtown Wilmington, about three blocks from the Cape Fear River.

Volunteer Amber Hersel from the Civilian Crisis Response Team helps rescue 7-year-old Keiyana Cromartie and her family from their flooded home September 14, 2018 in James City, North Carolina.

The storm is expected to track across SC over the weekend.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing cinderblock motel at the height of the storm.