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Hurricane Florence forces the mandatory evacuation of more than 1 million

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (KXAN/AP) — Since Hurricane Florence made landfall over North Carolina Friday morning as a Category 1 storm, reports indicate that in cities across the state, hundreds of people have been rescued. In places like New Bern, North Carolina alone, more than 300 people have been rescued since the start of the storm.

At last report, at least four people have been killed. 

The storm knocked out power to more than 890,000 homes and businesses, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the U.S. electrical grid.

Millions of people across North and South Carolina were under evacuation orders before Florence hit land. 

The sister of a KXAN employee found herself in the strike zone this week and was under a mandatory evacuation Wednesday to leave Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She says she's happy she took a proactive approach to her family's safety. 

"I was going to stay up until the last minute and then everyone said that the surge would be pretty large and extensive, so we went ahead and we drove back up north," said Leann Kiger, who traveled more than four hours north to Winston-Salem to seek safety with family. 

After living through Hurricane Hugo in 1989, Kiger says she knows the damage hurricane-force winds and floodwaters can do. 

"These trees will uproot in a heartbeat, and then there goes your power," she said. 

Although Kiger is nervous about what may be left of her home in Florence's aftermath, she says she's glad she made it out of town safely with her 14-year-old daughter.

"I could not imagine everyone else who's going through all of this who wasn't able to leave. The photos are outrageous," she added. 

After reaching a terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph (225 kph) earlier in the week, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m. at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles (kilometers) east of Wilmington and not far from the South Carolina line. It came ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

A Category 1 hurricane has maximum sustained wind speeds of 74 to 95 miles per hour. As of 6 a.m. Friday, Florence had a wind speed of 90 mph, which, according to the National Hurricane Center, are still enough to damage roofs, shingles, siding and gutters. Tree branches can snap and trees can topple, and there can be extensive damage to power lines and poles.

By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakened to 70 mph (112 kph) as it moved forward at 3 mph (6 kph) about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.


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