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
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.

5:17 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Hundreds rescued in New Bern

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

Hundreds of people have been rescued in New Bern, North Carolina according to Governor Roy Cooper.

Cooper said that swift water rescue teams have rescued hundreds of people and continue to search flooded areas.

4:49 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Florence is downgraded to a tropical storm

Goodbye, Hurricane Florence. Hello, Tropical Storm Florence.

Florence has officially been downgraded to a tropical storm with sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

But don't take that downgrade lightly. Life-threatening storm surge will continue tonight and catastrophic flooding is expected over portions of North and South Carolina through the weekend.

4:38 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Cape Fear River reaches record water level

From CNN's Judson Jones:

The Cape Fear River in Wilmington, North Carolina reached a water level of 8.28 feet at high tide Friday, a level higher than in any previous storms.

The river previously reached 8.17 feet during Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 8, 2016, and it reached 8.15 feet during Hurricane Hazel on Oct. 15, 1954.

Typical water levels there range from 1 to 5 feet.

4:19 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Hurricane Florence creeps towards South Carolina border

Hurricane Florence is moving slowly towards the South Carolina border at a speed of 6 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph.

That makes it still hurricane-force winds, though just barely.

4:16 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

Nearly 640,000 without power in North Carolina

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

A total of 639,729 customers are without power statewide according to North Carolina Emergency Management.

The counties with the highest concentration are Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Johnston, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender, Sampson and Wake.

4:03 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

President Trump expected to travel to storm area next week

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

The White House says President Trump is expected to visit areas affected by Hurricane Florence next week.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “The President is expected to travel to areas affected by the storm early to middle of next week, once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts. We will keep you posted when we have details.”

3:59 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

NC resident dies plugging in a generator, marking 4th storm-related death

From CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton

One person was killed in Lenoir County, North Carolina while plugging in a generator, according to a press release from Governor Roy Cooper’s Office.

This brings the total of Hurricane Florence-related deaths up to 4.

A Wilmington woman and her infant child died when a tree fell on their house, and a Pender County woman in cardiac distress died after first responders could not reach her during the storm.

3:28 p.m. ET, September 14, 2018

North Carolina woman dies after first responders couldn't reach her during the storm

From CNN's Hollie Silverman 

A woman in Pender County, North Carolina, died Friday morning after emergency responders weren't able to get to her due to downed trees and debris in the road, Chad McEwen, the assistant county manager for Pender County, said.

McEwen said 911 was called for a woman in cardiac distress in Hampstead, North Carolina.

A front-end loader was used to move trees in the way, but by the time emergency responders arrived arrived she had already died, McEwen said.

This is the third reported Hurricane Florence death.

A mother and her infant child were killed in Wilmington, North Carolina, after a tree fell on their house, Wilmington Police Department confirmed in a tweet earlier today.