Authorities in North and South Carolina are warning residents of deadly flash floods, as rescue teams work to reach people trapped by the storm. Florence is expected to dump rain for days.
The death toll from Hurricane Florence rose to twelve on Sunday, local media said. Authorities in the US state of North Carolina have warned residents that flooding could get worse.
As it moved inland, the storm became a tropical depression, with the power to take out power supplies and bringing the risk of flash floods.
As it made landfall on the US southeast coast on Friday, Florence buckled buildings, flooded entire communities and left more than 900,000 homes and businesses without power.
Downgraded to a Tropical Storm, its core is now drifting westward over South Carolina, threatening more flash floods and major river flooding.
Florence is now expected to head north, hitting the Midatlantic states and possibly New England early in the week.
Potential for destructive flooding
The storm slowed down significantly after it made landfall, crawling westward at 2 miles per hour (3.2 kilometers per hour) for the remainder of the weekend.
In North Carolina, rivers rose to record levels and more people have been asked to evacuate as authorities worry another round of flooding could come in the next few days.
In Wilmington, one of the state's major cities, flooding had completely covered the roads, leaving the town completely cut off as waters continued to rise.
"I have never seen flash flooding like this in our state," said North Carolina Transport Secretary Jim Trogdon. "It's making it difficult for us to move valuable resources to areas in need."
"I cannot overstate it: Floodwaters are rising, and if you aren't watching for them, you are risking your life," Governor Roy Cooper said. "Don't make yourself someone who needs to be rescued."
Rescue efforts underway
The US Marines, Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles to rescue hundreds of people trapped by Florence's shoreline onslaught.
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In the town of New Bern, homes were completely surrounded by water, and rescuers had to use inflatable boats to reach people. New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people had been rescued in the town of 30,000 residents without any serious injuries or deaths. But thousands of buildings were damaged in the destruction that Roberts called "heart-wrenching."
Weather forecasters have said the storm will eventually disintegrate over the southern Appalachians, and its remnants will make a sharp rightward swing to the northeast, moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of the week.
jcg,es/sms (dpa, AFP)