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Also, a 77-year-old man was apparently knocked down by the wind and died after going out to check on his hunting dogs, Lenoir County authorities said, and the governor's office said a man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords in the rain.

Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm at 7:15am (1115 GMT Friday) in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the Carolina coast for days. Although the storm is now a Category 1 hurricane, it is still dumping feet of rain over coastal communities.

The enormous storm crept at a 6 miles per hour pace, making it clear that the trouble was just beginning.

About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million more live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said. "We are stuck in the attic".

By Friday night the center of the storm had moved to eastern SC, about 15 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. "We have started to see the water recede". Gigi Charlebois, owner of the Edenton Coffee House on the northern shore of North Carolina's Albemarle Sound, chose to stay with her family overnight in the shop's dining room, sleeping on couches, pull-out cots and a mattress. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Florence had been a category three hurricane with 120mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a category one hurricane before coming ashore.

Hundreds of people in North Carolina have been rescued from rising water.

Onslow County spokesman Cornelius Jordan said some visitors at the Triangle Motor Inn were able to drive away on their own, but emergency personnel had to take others to a safe location. But officials said at least 140 were still waiting for rescue.

Power outages increased throughout Friday.

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More than 722,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said. Up to eleven-foot storm surges are expected, enough to overwhelm most of the homes here.

Just south and west of Carteret, new flash flood emergencies were issued in bordering Onslow and Duplin counties around 3:30 a.m. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities. He urged residents to stay inside and not get in the way of emergency workers.

"We know we're in for a long haul here", Cooper said of predictions that the storm will linger over the area.

In the besieged city of New Bern, rescuers had plucked more than 200 people from rising waters by midmorning Friday, but about 150 more had to wait as conditions worsened and a storm surge reached 10 feet, officials said.

Major river flooding expected to continue into early next week. Six sheriff's officers came to his house to rescue him Friday morning, but he didn't need to leave since the water was dropping by then.

Emergency crews were stretched thin.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the floodwaters. Those roads included Interstate 40 in Duplin County; N.C. 12 in Dare, Hyde and Carteret counties; N.C. 130 in Brunswick County; N.C. 55 in Craven and Pamlico counties; N.C. 58 in Carteret and Jones counties; and N.C. 904 in Brunswick County. More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury.

Travel on the state's roads has grown "extremely hazardous", said Jim Trogdon, the North Carolina transportation secretary, who warned in a late-morning briefing that a 500- to 1,000-year "flood event is anticipated".


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