With a potentially destructive if weakened force, the deadly hurricane Florence left the Carolinas preparing for what could be even gloomier days: an incessant rain is expected to push the rivers that are already above their banks.
On Saturday afternoon, the number of fatalities from the storm reached at least 14, including three people killed because flash floods swept cars off the roads.
One day after touching land with winds of 90 miles per hour Florence practically parked on land throughout the day and released the rain. With the floods of the rivers reaching historical levels, the authorities have ordered the eviction of thousands of people for fear that in the next few days the most destructive stage due to a flood in the history of North Carolina will be recorded.
The storm discharged more than two feet of water in some locations and meteorologists warned that torrential rains could rise to three and a half feet and cause heavy flooding inland in the coming days.
"I can not exaggerate it: Floods increase and if you're not on the lookout, you risk your life," Governor Roy Cooper said.
Florence still "downloads epic amounts" of rain, although it has lost steam, said Cooper, who discouraged those who tried to return to their homes on Saturday by driving on flooded roads armed with chainsaws to clear the fallen pines that covered them.
Until 5 pm. On Saturday, Florence's vortex was about 60 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was moving west at 2 miles per hour. Its maximum sustained winds weakened to 45 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported.
The National Weather Service warned on Saturday of possible "deadly" floods in Las Carolinas, Virginia and West Virginia in the coming days.
The victims are a mother and her son who died after a tree fell on her home in Wilmington, as well as another woman who died of a heart attack in Hampstead, both cities of North Carolina, where coastal populations are afloat whipped by the atmospheric phenomenon.
A fourth person died in Lenoir County while connecting a generator, according to a press release from Gov. Roy Cooper. Another man died of a fall after being hit by a gust of wind when he left his home.
The identities of the victims have not been revealed.
The cyclone is expected to degrade further on Saturday and turn into a tropical depression, while heading north and reaching Ohio next Monday, the CNH said.
"Cyclonic torrents threatening life and winds in gusts with hurricane force continue," the agency said, specifying that the atmospheric phenomenon has already accumulated more than 20 inches of rain in the area of impact of the Atlantic coast, flooded with the ascent of the tide.
The head of the Wilmington Police, Ralph Evangelous, put into words the dimension of the natural disaster. "I see that an event like a flood of biblical proportions will happen," he told ABC News.
"I see that the spa communities are flooded with water and a destruction that will be quite, quite epic," he said.
The governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, warned that Florence "is wreaking havoc" on the coast and could even wipe out entire communities as it "takes days in its violent advance over our state." Cooper described the event as a fact that happens once every 1,000 years.
"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and ruthless," he said. "It's a monster that nobody invited and does not want to leave."
One of the most affected populations is New Bern, where National Guard troops have responded to dozens of emergency calls to rescue the victims. More than 60 people had to be removed from a motel about to collapse and hundreds more had to be rescued from other places due to the floods. Others waited anxiously for help.
"WE'RE GOING TO RESCUE," the New Bern municipality tweeted almost at 2:00 a.m. Friday "Maybe it's better that you go up to the second floor of your home or the attic, but WE'RE GOING TO RESCUE."
Reports from the Nuevo Herald cable services collaborated with this note.