Florence fast facts:
- Florence has been downgraded to a tropical depression and is crawling across South Carolina, causing "catastrophic flooding" in North and South Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center
- At least 14 deaths from the storm have been confirmed, including a man and a woman in Houry County who died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Swansboro, North Carolina, has now received more than 30 inches of rain; several other have received more than 20 inches
- Forecasters warned that rains totaling up to 3.5 feet could trigger epic flooding through early next week
- As of 5 a.m., Florence was centered about 20 miles southwest of Columbia, South Carolina, crawling west at 8 mph. Its winds were down to 35 mph.
- The storm knocked out power to nearly 1 million homes and businesses
- 904 flights were cancelled within, into or out of the U.S. on Friday; 818 flights were cancelled Saturday and 450 on Sunday, according to FlightAware
Follow along below for the latest updates on the storm.
Flooding fears continue as Florence weakens
Florence has weakened into to tropical depression but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. update Sunday that excessive amounts of rain are still being dumped in North Carolina and the effect is expected to be "catastrophic."
An elevated risk of landslides is now expected in western North Carolina. Forecasters say heavy rains also are expected early in the week in parts of West Virginia and the west-central portion of Virginia. Both states also are at a risk of dangerous flash floods and river flooding.
At 5 a.m. Sunday, Florence was about 20 miles southwest of Columbia, South Carolina. It has top sustained winds of 35 mph and is moving west at 8 mph.
Trump tweets out condolences for victims of Florence
President Trump is tweeting his sympathies and condolences for victims of Florence.
In a tweet Saturday evening, Mr. Trump said five deaths had been recorded so far in the storm's wake. Officials had already raised the death toll to at least 11 by the time of the tweet, which followed a White House briefing.
Mr. Trump tweeted: "Deepest sympathies and warmth go out to the families and friends of the victims. May God be with them!"
Mr. Trump has been criticized this week for disputing the death toll from the Puerto Rican government from Hurricane Maria. According to the independent analysis commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico and conducted by researchers at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health, an estimated 2,975 more deaths than normal were recorded on the island from September 2017 to February 2018, compared to the government's first estimate of 64 deaths as a result of the hurricane.
Mr. Trump tweeted "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000..."
In a subsequent tweet, Mr. Trump claimed that the reporting was "done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico."
"If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!," he added.
Inland North Carolina rivers expected to rise to dangerous levels
Forecasters expect Cape Fear River to crest at 62 feet by Monday or Tuesday. On Saturday, it's barely halfway there, CBS News correspondent DeMarco Morgan reports.
Florence may dump as many as 18 inches of more rain before she's finished.
Thirty miles south, the city of Lumberton is bracing for the flooding many see as inevitable.
On Friday, even as the storm raged, an army of volunteers and National Guardsman came to the levee to try to close up a section of the levee that drops down for railroad tracks.
Robin Bridgett brought her family to the Red Cross shelter the day it opened.
"We already know that the flood is coming, so why stay when we know we could come and be safe," Bridgett said.
Drone footage shows North Carolina city submerged by a massive surge of water
Drone footage shows parts of New Bern that were submerged by a massive surge of water when Florence made landfall. Hundreds were suddenly stranded in their homes, CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports.
James Karcher flagged down the National Guard as we drove through his still flooded New Bern neighborhood. He'd come home to see what he could save. He's leaving with a duffle bag. He found his house was flooded "totally from the first floor to the third floor."
More than 400 people have been rescued since Florence inundated the city of 30,000 with 10 feet of storm surge and unrelenting rain.
Helicopters having trouble reaching hard-hit areas
The top U.S. military commander for U.S. Northern Command says the slow movement of Tropical Storm Florence is making it difficult to get more helicopters airborne for rescues in hard-hit areas.
Marine MV-22 Osprey aircraft are preparing to launch off Navy ships heading toward the coast, to provide greater awareness of what's going, particularly in North Carolina, Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy told the Associated Press.
He said Northern Command is also using two airborne early warning radar and surveillance aircraft, flying above the storm, to assess bridges, roads and other infrastructure. The aircrafts are able to help relay communications from low-flying helicopters to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) if transmissions are affected by storm.
O'Shaughnessy said he expects helicopters and high-water vehicles will be the greatest need.
Death toll rises to 12
At least 12 were killed in storm-related incidents in North and South Carolina, authorities said. The latest death involves two people who died in a house fire in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Officials said firefighters were unable to quickly enter the building due to the storm. The cause of the fire is currently unknown.
In Wayne County, an 81-year-old man died Friday after falling and striking his head while he was packing to evacuate.
Virginia bracing for remnants of Florence
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is warning residents in the southwest part of the state to prepare for flooding and possible landslides early next week from the remnants of Florence. The state so far has been spared from severe hurricane impacts, but the southwest portion of the state is expecting up to 12 inches of rain.
Northam said in a news release Saturday that emergency management officials are working to move people and commodities into place to prepare for flooding, including swift water rescue teams. Says Northam: "Now is not the time to let our guard down."
Emergency officials in Virginia have also deployed 25 high-wheeled vehicles and 50 personnel to help with rescue operations in North Carolina.
Rescues completed in New Bern
High-water rescues have been completed in New Bern, North Carolina, a city swamped by flooding from Florence. The city said 455 people in all were rescued from Florence's floodwaters. Waters began rising there late Thursday as Florence approached as a hurricane.
New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts says there were no significant injuries reported during the rescues, and there have been no fatalities in the city. She says a round-the-clock curfew is in effect until Monday morning, meaning residents shouldn't be out on the streets.
Roberts said around 1,200 people were in local shelters Saturday. She said thousands of buildings are damaged and calls the destruction "heart-wrenching."
Florence barely crawling across South Carolina
All coastal storm surge warnings have been discontinued as Tropical Florence slowly plods inland. The National Hurricane Center said water levels along the Carolinas coastline were gradually receding Saturday afternoon, though some minor coastal flooding was possible through Sunday. Florence's heavy rainfall is forecast to continue, potentially causing catastrophic inland flooding.
The hurricane center says some areas along North Carolina's coast could see up to 40 inches of total rain by the time Florence passes through early next week. At 5 p.m. Saturday, Florence was barely crawling west at 2 mph, with its center located about 60 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Florence's top sustained winds were holding at 45 mph. Forecasters say Florence could weaken to a tropical depression late Saturday.
Wild horses on Outer Banks survive Florence
A herd of wild horses that roams a northern portion of North Carolina's Outer Banks has survived Florence just fine. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a group devoted to protecting and managing the herd of wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs, posted a message on its Facebook page saying the horses were "doing their normal thing -- grazing, socializing and wondering what us crazy humans are all worked up over."
Forecasts earlier in the week that showed Florence potentially making a more direct hit on the northern Outer Banks had many people worried about how the horses would fare. But wildlife experts had said there was no need to worry.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore tweeted Saturday that all of the ponies in another herd on Ocracoke Island were safe. The Cape Lookout National Seashore said in a Facebook post that it would provide an update on a herd of horses at another location -- Shackleford Banks -- just as soon as staff could return to do condition assessments.
IRS gives tax penalty relief to Florence victims
The Internal Revenue Service says victims of Florence will get a grace period before having to file some tax returns and payments. The IRS said Saturday it's offering the relief in parts of North Carolina and other regions designated a disaster area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Upcoming September deadlines for certain individual and business tax filings and payments will be postponed until Jan. 31 next year. That includes quarterly estimated income tax payments that would have been due next week, and quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due Sept. 30.
The IRS says it will automatically provide relief for people with addresses in the counties designated a disaster area. Taxpayers who qualify for relief but live outside the disaster area can call the IRS at 866-562-5227.
"In the blink of an eye our street was flooded"
The riverfront city of New Bern, North Carolina, experienced some of the worst flooding from Tropical Storm Florence, where a massive 10-foot storm surge inundated streets and turned houses into islands.
More than 360 people were rescued from in the city from the rising waters. The city said in a Facebook post early Saturday morning that more than 100 people are still waiting for help. Residents like Teia Cherry and her family decided against evacuating, but then came the water. A storm chaser with a boat rescued her.
"Fast. That's all I can say, is fast," Cherry said of how quickly the water came on. "Get somewhere. It's in a blink of an eye. My cousin looked and he turned around in the blink of an eye our street was flooded. That fast."
Kris Van Cleave contributed to this report.
Outer Banks spared the worst of Florence
Many residents who evacuated North Carolina's Outer Banks ahead of Hurricane Florence are making their way back onto the barrier islands, which were spared from the worst of the storm's wrath. The residents as well as workers and property owners were being allowed onto the northern portion of the islands beginning Saturday morning. Visitors were expected to be allowed entry to the same area beginning Sunday.
County officials and business owners reported relatively minimal damage, and there were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.
While the Outer Banks survived Florence fairly unscathed, scientists say they remain incredibly vulnerable to future storms, climate change and sea-level rise.
Death toll rises to 9
Officials confirmed nine people were killed in storm-related incidents. Eight people died in North Carolina and one person was killed in South Carolina.
Three people were killed in Duplin County, North Carolina, due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways, the local sheriff's office said Saturday.
A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house in Wilmington, North Carolina. In South Carolina, officials said a 61-year-old woman was killed when her vehicle hit a tree that had fallen across a highway.
Colleges give free football tickets to evacuees
Florence evacuees from the Carolinas are getting free tickets to watch the University of Florida's football team play Colorado State. The ticket office and athletic association at the University of Florida extended the invitation to evacuees for Saturday's game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.
Gator officials said evacuees had to present a valid ID showing they're from North Carolina or South Carolina. They said they were following the lead of the University of Tennessee who offered free tickets to their matchup against the UTEP Miners on Saturday. The Tennessee Volunteers won the game 24-0.
"Certainly, a football game is relatively insignificant in comparison to the realities these evacuees are facing," Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer said in a statement. "But if we can provide just a few hours of distraction and normalcy for these families, I believe we should do all we can to make that possible."
Florence remains a large, dangerous storm
Tropical Storm Florence remains a very large, slow and dangerous storm as it swirls over the Carolinas. Florence's top sustained winds were holding at 45 mph, with higher gusts east of the storm's center, the National Hurricane Center said in its 2 p.m. advisory.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, Florence was inching west at 3 mph, with its center located about 50 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Forecasters say prolonged rainfall from Florence could produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding.
Rainfall totals from florence
"You are risking your life"
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents of rising flood waters Saturday morning. "I cannot overstate it, flood waters are rising," he said. "And if you aren't watching for them you are risking your life."
He also urged residents not to go back home until they get the official all-clear, and said many who think the storm has past "have yet to see its threat."
"Residents of Charlotte, Asheville, Fayetteville, Statesville, the Southern Piedmont, the sandhills, the mountains, rivers will rise days after the rain has stopped. In the east, they will crest Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday."
Florence rainfall by city:
The National Weather Service reported preliminary rainfall numbers attributed to Hurricane Florence at 12 Noon, ET. These numbers were updated at 6 p.m. via Twitter.
Both sets of data are plotted on the embedded map. Some mobile users may have to click the link provided to view.
1 death reported in South Carolina
A 61-year-old woman was killed late Friday when the vehicle she was driving struck a tree that had fallen across Highway 18 near Union, South Carolina, the state's highway patrol confirms to CBS News.
The woman, who was wearing a seat belt, died at the scene, Capt. Kelley Hughes of the South Carolina Highway Patrol told the Associated Press. No passengers were in the vehicle at the time of the crash.
The tree was about 6 feet above the road surface. Hughes said the vehicle's roof is what struck the tree.
Mandatory evacuation for Cape Fear River
A mandatory evacuation order has been put in place for anyone who lives within a mile of the banks of North Carolina's Cape Fear River and Little River. Officials from Cumberland County, Fayetteville, and the town of Wade issued the order early Saturday afternoon, saying residents there face "imminent danger" from flood waters expected to arrive in the area soon.Residents are being asked to leave immediately.
Officials said flood waters from other areas are accumulating north of the county and filling the river basins beyond their capacities. They asked that the evacuation begin immediately and that everyone within the evacuation areas get out by 3 p.m. Sunday. Seven emergency shelters are open in the county.
Storm forces road closures in North Carolina
Portions of eastern North Carolina's two interstates are closed because of flooding caused by Tropical Storm Florence's torrential rains and may not re-open before Monday. The state Department of Transportation says a 16-mile stretch of Interstate 95 between its intersection with I-40 and near the town of Dunn is closed. Law enforcement has set up a detour.
Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said Saturday that authorities were still assembling an alternate route for a 5-mile section of I-40 that is closed in both directions near the town of Warsaw, about 70 miles southeast of Raleigh.
The state DOT said on its website that the two roads are expected to re-open by Monday morning.
Trogdon says road conditions are expected to get worse in the immediate future, pointing out the number of closed primary roads in eastern counties had doubled compared to Friday. He urged motorists not to travel east of I-95 or south of U.S. Highway 70.
Alderwoman helps rescue 13 families in New Bern
Jameesha Harris, an alderwoman in New Bern, North Carolina, rescued 13 families with the help of her husband and a group of volunteers. They went door to door rescuing others in areas prone to flooding.
"There's a lot of people that I know have been in their home, and they want to get out and sight-see but they're doing more harm than good," she told CBSN on Saturday. She said there's a lot of residents who need to be rescued and people are slowing up traffic to first responders and police officers.
"We're urging people right now on social media and all avenues to please go back if in your home if you do not need any assistance and trying to sight see, now is not the time," she said.
Swansboro, North Carolina, drenched by 30 inches of rain
The preliminary rainfall total in the North Carolina town of Swansboro stood at 30.58 inches as of noon Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. Newport, Morehead City and Emerald Isle have gotten more than 23 inches of rain.
The weather service tweeted a graphic that showed preliminary rainfall totals as of midday Saturday.
Virginia-based Navy ships return to port
Nearly 30 Virginia-based ships and 128 aircraft sent away from their bases in the Hampton Roads-area because of now-Tropical Storm Florence have been given the go-ahead to return, the Navy said in a statement.
The aircraft will make their way back beginning Saturday, and the ships will start to return Sunday.
The decision comes after inspections of the region's port and airfield, the statement said.
More than 360 rescued in New Bern as others await rescue
In New Bern, North Carolina, rescue crews used boats to carry more than 360 people from rising water. One of them was Sadie Marie Holt, 67, who first tried to row out of her neighborhood during Florence's assault.
"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard ... We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees," said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled. She was eventually rescued by a boat crew.
"More than 100 people still require rescue and we have three rescue teams who are working around the clock to get into communities to retrieve people," the city of New Bern said in a Facebook post early Saturday morning.
Watches and warnings in effect
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- South Santee River, South Carolina, to Surf City, North Carolina
- Pamlico Sound
The National Weather Service said interests in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states should monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Florence.
"The fact is this storm is deadly"
Tropical Storm Florence already has proven deadly with its nearly nonstop rain, surging seawater and howling winds. The threats are days from ending as remnants from what was a major hurricane swirl over North and South Carolina.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds its way across land. "The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending," Cooper said.
Five people are confirmed dead from storm-related incidents, including a mother and baby who were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to authorities. Earlier, 7 deaths were reported, but Amanda Tesch, a public information officer with Carteret County, North Carolina, said Emergency Services Director Stephen Rea was incorrect to categorize two deaths as storm-related.
Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m. at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the South Carolina line. By late Saturday morning, top sustained winds weakened to 45 mph as it crawled farther inland, heading west, at 2 mph. Its center was located about 40 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, at 11. a.m ET.
Mandatory evacuation in Harnett County
North Carolina's Harnett County declared a mandatory evacuation along a river that's expected to rise to more than 17 feet above flood stage. On its Facebook page, the county said the evacuation was in effect Saturday along the Lower Little River near the Cumberland County line.
The National Weather Service is forecasting the river to crest at Manchester at 35.4 feet at about 8 a.m. Monday. Flood stage is 18 feet. The previous record crest was 29 feet set during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The river is forecast to reach flood stage sometime after 2 a.m. Sunday.
Forecasters predict a staggering amount of rain
Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland, meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay, or cover the entire state of Texas with nearly 4 inches of water.
North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches.
More than 23 inches have fallen in some towns. With tropical storm-force winds swirling 350 miles wide, Florence continued deluging North and South Carolina on Saturday morning after pushing surging seas far ashore. Forecasters warned that drenching rains totaling up to 3.5 feet could trigger epic flooding well inland through early next week.
Morehead City, North Carolina, had received 23 inches of rain by Friday night, and forecasters warned Saturday morning that parts of the Carolinas could get up to 15 inches more. Florence flattened trees, buckled buildings and crumpled roads. The storm knocked out power to nearly 930,000 homes and businesses, and the number could keep rising.
Storm surges -- the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane -- were as high as 10 feet.
No faster than walking speed
At times, Florence was moving forward no faster than a human can walk, and it has remained such a wide storm that its counter-clockwise winds keep scooping up massive amounts of moisture from the sea. The flooding began on barrier islands in North Carolina and then spread into coastal and river communities there and in South Carolina, swamping the white sands and golf courses in North Myrtle Beach.
For people living inland in North and South Carolina, maximum peril could come days later as all that water drains, overflowing rivers and causing flash floods. Authorities warned, too, of risks of mudslides and environmental disasters from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.
About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door to door to pull more than 60 people out as the Triangle Motor Inn began to crumble.
Storm expected to turn to the northeast
The hurricane center said the storm will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.
Florence could become a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared last year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at nearly 3,000.