WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – The Latest on Florence (all times local):
The center of Tropical Storm Florence has moved into South Carolina, and both it and North Carolina continue to face powerful winds and catastrophic flooding.
Florence’s top sustained winds remain at 70 mph (110 kph) as it crawls west at just 3 mph (6 kph).
At 8 p.m. Friday, Florence was centered about 15 miles (25 kilometers) north-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and about 55 miles (90 kilometers) east-southeast of Florence, South Carolina.
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center. The National Hurricane Center says a sustained wind of 55 mph (89 kph) and a gust to 68 mph (109 kph) were reported in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
The sheriff of a North Carolina county hit by Florence says four men are charged with break-ins that happened after residents evacuated.
Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram tells news outlets the break-ins happened Thursday. He says two men are charged with possession of burglary tools and breaking and entering of a convenience store in Leland. Two other men are charged with breaking or entering of a motor vehicle.
Ingram says deputies will do everything they can to lock up people who “prey upon the citizens of Brunswick County.”
Ingram says officials made sure ahead of time to have “adequate (jail) space for anybody that wanted to try that.”
President Donald Trump is assuring officials in North Carolina that the federal government is prepared to assist with any help they need as the result of widespread flooding and property damage caused by Florence.
Earlier Friday, the president called Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Charlotte Mayor Vie Lyles, and Princeville Mayor Bobbie Jones.
The White House says Trump has been monitoring hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Florence throughout the day and has received updates regarding the impact of the devastating storm.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the state must be prepared for several additional days of rain, winds and ultimately more flooding before the damage caused by Florence finally ends.
Cooper said at a news conference Friday that as now-Tropical Storm Florence moves slowly westward this weekend, people living in south-central North Carolina will see flooding, some for the first time. Areas at risk include the cities of Fayetteville and Charlotte and the Sandhills region.
Closer to the coast, Cooper says he issued an order to allow sandbagging in and around Lumberton to lessen the effects of a rising Lumber River. Rains starting in the mountains also ultimately could produce mudslides.
More than 750,000 people are without power in the state, and Cooper says that number is expected to rise.
The governor announced another mega-shelter would be opening on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That’s in addition to a large shelter already open at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem. More than 19,000 people were in over 150 shelters before dawn Friday.
Officials at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington have announced the school will remain closed until further notice because of the effects of Hurricane Florence.
A memo sent out to school personnel Friday said officials “cannot yet effectively or comprehensively assess the impact on our campus.” Because of that, the school said it is unable to determine when it will resume the fall semester. The school will remain closed until further notice.
The memo said the school will give students and employees as much notice as possible before it reopens, giving weight to travel challenges and other factors. Officials said they can’t determine how the closure will affect the academic calendar.
Dozens of people in the North Carolina town of Belhaven had to be rescued from the rising waters of Pungo River and a creek that together hem in the sea-level community.
The downtown area including the municipal building and nearby homes were swamped, starting with the high tide on Thursday evening. Roads into the town of about 1,500 people remained submerged Friday, forcing the retreat of a county ambulance truck and an electricity company repair vehicle that tried to enter from the east and west along the town’s main road.
Mayor Ricky Credle was holed up at the municipal building Friday afternoon. He says the town is “closed off” amid the highest water downtown that he had ever seen.
Credle says the sheriff’s department used a high-axle truck to rescue some residents who wanted to leave, dropping them off at Red Cross shelters.
Hikers are having to get off the Appalachian Trail as Tropical Storm Florence continues to dump heavy rains, causing floods and other dangerous conditions in areas the trail passes through.
The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service have closed portions of the trail in North Carolina and Virginia because of the storms.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is urging hikers to get off the trail and seek shelter. The nonprofit said dangerous conditions could include falling trees, flash floods and mudslides.
The Appalachian Trail stretches more than 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) from Georgia to Maine and has more than 3 million visitors each year. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy says more than 3,000 people attempt to hike the entire trail each year.
More than three quarters of a million power outages have been reported in the Carolinas as Tropical Storm Florence slowly creeps across the two states.
Emails and website tallies from North Carolina utilities show more than 750,000 outages had been reported in North Carolina as of late Friday afternoon.
Poweroutage.us tracks outages across the country. The service says more than 107,000 outages were reported in South Carolina.
The storm’s top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph (110 kph), and it’s at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 mph (6 kph).
At 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 50 miles (75 kilometers) west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles (45 kilometers) northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center. The National Hurricane Center says Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast.