Duke Energy has 20,000 linemen on standby for Hurricane Florence

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday said that Hurricane Florence is likely to affect energy infrastructure throughout the southeastern region of the United States.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that the "historic" hurricane would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state in several feet of water.

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear predicted Florence would drop up to eight months of rain in two or three days.

She said she expects to be without power for up to two weeks. Floodwaters may enter tens of thousands of structures and could make many uninhabitable.

Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina border and makes its way slowly inland.

At 11 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), the hurricane center said Florence had maximum sustained winds near 45 miles per hour (75 km per hour) and continued to produce catastrophic flooding in the Carolinas.

The slow pace will also create incredible rain totals of more than 20 inches over portions of North and SC.

Brock, meanwhile, said the surges "are going to be a major problem way up into the streams and tributaries that come out of sound areas". He said five deaths were confirmed from the storm and "several others are under investigation".

As 400-mile-wide (645-kilometer-wide) Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach more than 360 people besieged by rising waters in New Bern, while many of their neighbors awaited help. Low-income residents and the elderly face disproportionate consequences from lack of food and water, loss of electricity, and other elements indirectly and directly attributable to a hurricane.

"Please be safe and be smart and use your common sense", Cooper added.

Florence approached the North Carolina coast as a Category 2 storm with a diameter of around 500 miles, but has since been downgraded to a Category 1. "Soybeans have just begun harvesting in the very far eastern part of North Carolina but have not begun anywhere else in the state". "Life-threatening storm surge, heavy rainfall, and damaging wind will cover a large area regardless of exactly where the center of Florence moves". Masters estimated that storm surge caused at least $3 billion in damage, compared with maybe $1 billion for wind damage.

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from Wilmington police. The child's father was taken to a hospital. In Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack.

Hurricane Warning: An announcement that sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or higher are expected somewhere within a specified area in association with a tropical cyclone.

On Thursday morning, a tweet from South Carolina's Emergency Management Division brought this perspective on Florence's sheer size: It's "larger than SC and North Carolina combined".

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury.

Browning said she had started a GoFundMe campaign in case repairs are needed for the family home.

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

"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.

Authorities in North Carolina said almost 814,000 customers were without power.

A surge is likely along portions of the SC coast.

More than 22,600 people in North Carolina were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena. "So since we can't find anything within our means. we've opted to stay". President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on the federal level Tuesday for the Carolinas and Virginia.