Death toll from Hurricane Florence rises to 8


More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds collapsed part of the roof.

The storm officially made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15 am (1115 GMT), the National Hurricane Center said.

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous agreed, telling ABC News' David Muir, "I see a biblical proportion flood event that's going to occur". "I see the beach communities being inundated with water and destruction that will be pretty, pretty epic in nature".

Florence's top sustained winds remain at 70 miles per hour (110 kph) as it crawls west at just 3 miles per hour (6 kph). A gust of 170kph was recorded at Wilmington airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago.

On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air.

City officials sent out an dramatic tweet about 2am Friday as rivers swelled, tides crested and the rain wouldn't stop, and people found themselves trapped in their homes as the water rose.

Two more people were killed in Lenoir County. In fact, this is a very common area for them to affect.

The storm has claimed at least five lives, two of them in Wilmington, NC. The record was set by Hurricane Helene in 1958 with 135 miles per hour.

In the town of New Bern, 30,000 residents stayed behind in spite of mandatory evacuation orders.

Heavy rainfall could leave nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water, it's feared.

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Director of Emergency Management Kevin Johnson monitors the impact of Hurricane Florence from the county's Emergency Operations Center Friday, Sept. 14.

Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and its restoration could take weeks.

The worst of the storm's fury had yet to reach coastal SC, where emergency managers said it was not too late for people to get out.

More than 600,000 people had already lost power by 1 p.m. Friday, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety reported.

A surge is likely along portions of the SC coast.

"Our house is on high ground so we're not anxious about the flooding", he said.

After a night of torrential rain, devastating wind and unsafe storm surges, the damage that Florence, now a tropical storm, brought to the Carolina coast is only now starting to fully reveal itself.

Hours earlier, streets along the coast had been transformed into raging streams, and massive waves surged along the Outer Banks.

The city of about 29,000, which was founded in the early 1700s and was briefly the state capital, is near the North Carolina coast and is bordered on the east and south, respectively, by two rivers. As the storm sat along the edge of the Atlantic, some stretches along the coastal Carolinas received close to 20 inches of rain.

The North Carolina State Emergency Response Team released a statement Saturday night indicating a, 81-year-old man died in Wayne County after falling and hitting his head as he packed to evacuate on Friday.