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

Hurricane Florence projected path as of Thursday

Hurricane Florence projected path as of Thursday

Eastern Time on Thursday.

Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, knocking out power and causing at least eight deaths as flood waters that have devastated many communities kept rising.

At least 150,000 people were without power in North Carolina early on Friday with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to utility companies.

It was initially unclear how many people ended up being rescued.

Duke Energy, the major power supplier for North and SC, told the New York Times on Wednesday that the storm could knock out power for up to 3 million customers across the two states. Millions of people were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.

At the nearby Arthur Christian Church, Booker reports, about twenty people were praying together as the storm barreled toward the Carolinas.

Bobby Brown, 50, with his granddaughter Lyric, 1, during a power outage in Florence, South Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. Electricity remained out for much of the city, known for its historic mansions, with power lines lying across roads like wet strands of spaghetti.

A surge is likely along portions of the SC coast. The 2.6-magnitude quake was the state's fifth this year.

Officials have warned the storm has the potential to kill "a lot of people" amid risks of "catastrophic" flooding.

Most of the coastal region's airports closed Thursday, with no flights expected until at least Saturday.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

The hundreds of cancellations at Charlotte's airport, a major hub for American Airlines, were largely by regional affiliates that fly between Charlotte and smaller airports along the coast.

Long-duration, damaging wind gusts of 55 miles per hour or greater and saturated ground may cause a tremendous amount of trees to fall and lead to widespread power outages from the southern tip of Delmarva to Charleston, South Carolina and as far inland as Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, to Columbia, South Carolina. Customers have included police from nearby Myrtle Beach, an employee told Bradley. More rain could prove to be devastating.

Helene was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm Thursday.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

"It was pitch black and I was just scared out of my mind", said Tracy Singleton, who with her family later drove through torrential rain and high winds from her home near New Bern. "Soybeans have just begun harvesting in the very far eastern part of North Carolina but have not begun anywhere else in the state".

Government disaster management agencies have encouraged evacuation.

Another Wilmington resident said she does not want to leave because she is afraid to see what she would be coming back to.

A storm surge warning is in effect for Myrtle Beach, SC to Ocracoke Inlet, NC, and the Pamlico Sound, including the Pamlico and Neuse rivers.

The remainder of SC and North Carolina into southwest Virginia could see 5 to 10 inches, with some isolated areas seeing 15 inches. Area colleges canceled classes but most will keep food service and health centers open, and some ordered evacuations from dormitories. The figure for SC was 170,000 customers. Athletic events, notably college football games, also were postponed.

Wilmington resident Julie Terrell was plenty concerned after walking to breakfast past a row of shops fortified with boards, sandbags and hurricane shutters.

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