Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, triggering unsafe flooding, knocking out power in almost 900,000 homes and businesses, and causing at least eight deaths.
By Sunday night, Florence's winds had dropped to about 30 miles per hour (45 kph), the National Hurricane Center said, with some weakening forecast over the next 24 hours before intensifying once again as an extratropical low-pressure center.The center of the storm was about 45 miles (70 km) north-northeast of Greenville and moving north at 10 mph (17 kph), the hurricane center said.
"We were stir-crazy from being inside so long", Moore said. In South Carolina, some 36,000 customers are without power, officials said.
"What we want to try to do is to minimize the time that people spend in their shelters that they're in right now", Sprayberry said. Although more than $740 million in federal, state and local funds have been spent to address Matthew's damages, state officials are still working to distribute $236 million allocated by the federal government past year to help reimburse or pay for extensive home repairs.
That should spell some relief for the inundated areas of Onslow County, but unfortunately puts the city of Wilmington, southeast coastal communities of North Carolina and northeast areas of SC in the line of fire instead.
Complicating the move for residents were power outages and road closures.
"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.
Catastrophic flash floods and prolonged significant river flooding are likely over for portions of the Carolinas into west-central Virginia and far eastern West Virginia as Florence moves slowly inland, the hurricane center said. It said it was located about 60 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and forecasters predicted a slow westward march.
Rivers approached record flood stage and more than 680,000 utility customers were without power Sunday as North Carolina struggled under the crushing fury of Florence, the mighty hurricane diminished to a tropical depression but still pounding the region with unrelenting rain. Six people died in SC, including four in auto accidents and two from carbon monoxide from a portable generator.
Mountainous parts of southern Virginia are now at risk of flooding, mudslides and landslides due to Florence's heavy rains on Monday, said Guy, the meteorologist.
In South Carolina, a woman was killed when she struck a tree while driving, and a couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator being operated inside their home, officials said.
"It has already dumped 20-to-30 inches of rain on parts of the Carolinas with more to come", he said.
Evidence of Hurricane Florence's wrath was sprawled across the lawn of the Patty and Philip Urick's home on the Neuse River, all but destroyed by violent flooding. It was downgraded to Category 1 before coming ashore on Friday near Wilmington.
South Carolina's governor urged anyone in a flood-prone area to evacuate. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit. "We didn't know where to go", she said.
The states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, as well as Washington D.C., declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm.
Firefighters said the area had not been in the zone under evacuation orders.
At 5 a.m., the storm was centered about 20 miles southwest of Columbia, South Carolina.