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
8:23 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Trump received a hurricane briefing in the White House Situation Room today

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The White House press secretary office sent out this photo showing President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence receiving a hurricane briefing in the White House Situation Room.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley later said Trump called North Carolinian officials today to assure them that the federal government "stood ready and prepared to assist with anything their state and respective communities would need during this natural disaster."

8:43 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Florence's center has moved into South Carolina

The center of Tropical Storm Florence crossed into eastern South Carolina and is moving west at just 3 mph, according to the latest advisory from National Hurricane Center.

The storm still has sustained winds of 70 mph and is bringing life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic freshwater flooding over portions of North and South Carolina.

Florence will continue to bring flooding to both states through the weekend, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward says.

8:02 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

North Carolina governor signs executive order to speed relief

From CNN's Hollie Silverman and Ryan Browne:

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order to help speed hurricane relief to impacted areas.

Executive order No. 55 was issued to help with temporary housing and aid in the transport of generators and trucks to affected parts of North Carolina.

“This loss of life is devastating and the friends and families of the victims remain in our prayers,” Cooper said in a statement. “The fact is this storm is deadly. And we know we are days away from it ending.”

CNN has confirmed five people have died from Tropical Storm Florence so far.

Separately, forces from the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserves are in "ready mode" to provide hurricane relief support to FEMA and other state and federal agencies feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence.

Water purification, high water vehicles, and rotary wing aircraft that support search and rescue efforts are just a few of the Army capabilities ready to respond and available for action when the call comes in.

7:48 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Video shows severely flooded businesses in New Bern

From CNN's Lauren Leslie

Reporter Adam Owens from CNN affiliate WRAL shot video of severely damaged and flooded businesses in New Bern, NC earlier this afternoon. He reports that water knocked out the window of one salon and “tossed around everything inside.”

See it:

7:30 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Myrtle Beach held up well so far, but flooding is still to come

From CNN's Eric Levenson:

Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said the South Carolina city held up "quite well" from its impact with Tropical Storm Florence.

However, the coming flooding over the coming days in surrounding areas is likely to have a "truly devastating impact" on Myrtle Beach's economy.

"What we are the most concerned about is we have five major rivers that surround us, and we only have one major road into Myrtle Beach, but all of our major roads are going to be affected by this flooding within the next three to seven days," she said.

"And when that flooding gets here, it can last up to 10 to 12 days or longer from what we are being told."

You can listen to Mayor Bethune's comments below:

6:56 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Facebook activates safety check for Florence

Facebook activated a safety check for areas affected by Tropical Storm Florence.

The feature allows users in storm-hit areas along the Carolina coasts to let their friends know if they are safe.

8:53 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Firefighters kneel to pray after mother and baby die from falling tree

A group of firefighters in Wilmington, North Carolina, knelt and prayed outside the home where a mother and her infant child died from a tree falling on their home.

They were the first known deaths in the storm.

The father was also injured in the incident and was transported to a nearby hospital.

6:09 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Death of 77-year-old man is 5th storm-related fatality

From CNN's Hollie Silverman:

A 77-year-old man was found dead at his residence in Kinston, North Carolina on Friday, the fifth death related to Tropical Storm Florence.

It is believed he died by being blown down by wind when he went to check on his hunting dogs.

The man's family found him dead at 8 a.m., Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail.

5:27 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Up to 2.5 million could lose power in Florence

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Nearly 650,000 customers are without power statewide, according to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

Cooper said that utility companies estimate that 1 million to 2.5 million customers could be without power before the end of the storm.

The utility companies have brought in resources from out of state to help with restoration efforts, Cooper said.

In addition, 20,000 evacuees are in over 150 shelters statewide.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has agreed to open a mega shelter on their campus in Chapel Hill, Cooper said. One mega shelter was already opened at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem.