WILMINGTON, N.C., Sept 15 (Reuters) - Tropical storm Florence lumbered inland on Saturday, knocking down trees, flooding rivers, and dumping sheets of rain in the Carolinas where five people have died.
"Know that water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood".
Further along the Cape Fear River, grass and trees lining the banks were partly submerged, still well below a highway bridge crossing it.
Some towns have received more than two feet of rain from Florence, and forecasters warned that drenching rains totalling up to three-and-a-half feet of water could trigger epic flooding well inland through early next week.
In neighboring SC, 155,000 customers are without power, officials said.
Meanwhile, in SC, at least one gator seemed to be cool with the outer bands of wind and rain that whipped the Myrtle Beach area.
Wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area.
A downed tree and water from the Neuse river are seen on a flooded street during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018.
The speed of the storm slowed down significantly after it made landfall, crawling westward at 2 miles per hour (4 kilometers per hour) for the remainder of the weekend.
The viral video, which has more than 13.6 million views, showed Weather Channel correspondent Mike Seidel in Wilmington, North Carolina, trying to fight the heavy wind as he reported live from the storm on Friday.
In New Bern, along the coast, homes were completely surrounded by water, and rescuers used inflatable boats to reach people.
The operations were made more perilous by fallen trees and power lines; officials didn't expect power to be restored for weeks.
The storm's center is crawling inland over SC, but many of its main rain bands still are over already-saturated North Carolina - setting up what may be days of flooding for some communities.
The coal-fired Sutton plant was retired in 2013 and the company has been excavating millions of tons of ash from old waste pits and removing it to safer lined landfills constructed on the property. The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and mercury.
New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people in all were rescued in the town of 30,000 residents without any serious injuries or deaths.
Officials in SC said a 61-year-old woman died when her vehicle struck a tree that had fallen across a highway near the town of Union. The swift-water rescues on Saturday morning were mostly of people who hadn't heeded those orders, said Burgaw Fire Capt. Nick Smith.
Along coastal communities, people trapped in homes by relentless flood waters awaited rescue, and tens of thousands hunkered down in shelters after fleeing their homes as the storm approached.
A mother and her baby died when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The White House said yesterday President Donald Trump had approved making federal funding available in some counties.
For people living inland in the Carolinas, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest. As of noon, Emerald Isle had more than 23 inches (58 centimeters) of rain, and Wilmington and Goldsboro had about a foot (30 centimeters).
The storm is expected to turn west and then north moving through the Carolinas and the Ohio Valley by Monday, the NHC said early on Saturday. Then it will swing to the northeast in the middle of next week on a path to the Atlantic Ocean near Nova Scotia, where it will be an extratropical low with gale-force winds.