Florence pummels the Carolinas

By Brian Ries, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Paul P. Murphy and Eric Levenson, CNN
8:11 a.m. ET, September 17, 2018
9:44 a.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Want to help the hurricane relief efforts? Give blood, the Red Cross says

The American Red Cross is urging residents in non-impacted areas to give blood as Hurricane Florence batters the Carolina coastline.

The organization had to cancel about 130 blood drives because of the hurricane, so it's calling on volunteers from outside the area to donate.

The group made the announcement at a FEMA news briefing.

Watch more:

9:37 a.m. ET, September 14, 2018

More than 500,000 without power in the Carolinas

More than half a million customers are without power in North and South Carolina. Here are the latest numbers: 

  • 475,022 power outages statewide in North Carolina    
  • 32,359 power outages statewide in South Carolina
  • 507,381 total customers without power in both states

9:27 a.m. ET, September 14, 2018

This is what Florence's landfall looked like from space

From CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton

Astronaut Ricky Arnold tweeted a picture from the International Space Station of Hurricane Florence making landfall.

Check it out:

7:54 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

North Carolina sheriff: If you loot, You will be arrested!

At least four people have been arrested in Brunswick County, North Carolina, for felony breaking and entering. 

The sheriff's office announced the arrests on its Facebook page, and issued a warning to anyone considering looting during the storm:

“For anyone looking to take advantage of vulnerabilities during this storm....be advised BCSO deputies are still on duty! You will be arrested!”

 Here's the full statement:

9:16 a.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Washington, North Carolina, gets more than 7 feet of flooding

From CNN's David Williams

Floodwater levels reached more than 7 feet in Washington, North Carolina.

Tammera Cooper took a picture of the makeshift rain gauge near her home. The area gets plenty of flooding when it rains — enough that they’ve turned a pole into the giant rain gauge.

The pole's markings go up to nine feet.

Around 6 a.m. Friday morning, water levels were hovering just below the 8-foot mark. (However, she added that the the tide has started to go down and that the water level has dropped to about 6.5 feet.)

Cooper says her house was built at 14 feet above sea level, so they are safe.

Here's what the pole looks like on a normal day:

9:07 a.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Coming up: FEMA gives an update on Hurricane Florence

Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are expected to give an update of Hurricane Florence at 9:15 a.m. ET.

We'll cover the briefing live here, and you can watch it in the video player at the top of this story.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long this morning told CNN that the storm is "doing exactly as predicted."

"The most devasting part of this hazard is the storm surge," he said. "We're seeing a lot of flooding."

Watch more from Long:

8:59 a.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Why water — not wind — is the biggest threat today

From CNN's Brandon Miller

Wind often gets the headlines, but water is the thing that's most responsible for deaths in a hurricane.

And Florence will bring water. It'll pour down from the sky in heavy rain bands. And it'll come up from the ocean in storm surge.

About half of all deaths in hurricanes come from storm surges, like this graphic shows:

8:47 a.m. ET, September 14, 2018

200 people rescued in New Bern, North Carolina

Colleen Roberts, spokeswoman for New Bern, North Carolina, said about 200 people were rescued overnight as the city began to flood.

Another 150 people are still waiting to be rescued, she said. A lot of power lines and trees are down around the city, and there has been significant damage to businesses and the Historic Downtown District, she said.

Rescuers have very challenging conditions, but they are telling people who need to be rescued that they will get them out.

"We tell them to remain calm, not to panic. We will rescue them," she said. "Again, we’re having to be strategic about it.” 

So what does the flooding look like in New Bern? Jay Schreiber took this photo of floodwaters from the Trent River near his home in Sky Sail Condos:

7:55 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Trump tweets: Incredible job being done

As Hurricane Florence pounds the East Coast, President Trump is tweeting praise for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, first responders and law enforcement officials.

FEMA is set to give an update at 9:15 a.m. ET on their Hurricane Florence efforts. We'll be covering it live here.

Meanwhile, check of the President's tweet: