He confirmed that due to rising waters, some people are waiting for rescue in their attics and on their roofs.
Those waves were coming from the Neuse River, which is about 25 feet away, and downhill, from his house. Ballance called the rainfall "biblical", saying he's gotten reports from friends that his downtown seafood restaurant was flooded, just like the rest of the small city's historic downtown, and he's anxious about the hundreds of people who needed to be rescued overnight in the city. The water never made it to his home.
The city of 29,000 that's near the North Carolina coast is surrounded by two rivers on the east and south.
Residents reached out for help through the night by phone and on social media.
New Bern, the city where Pepsi was invented in a drugstore, was still experiencing winds in the 70 miles per hour range Friday afternoon.
No deaths have been reported in New Bern, but the situation caused by Hurricane Florence is dire, the mayor said.
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Rain projections also increased, with some locations along the North Carolina coast now expected to get up to 40 inches. The meteorological service of Antigua and Barbuda has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for Antigua and Montserrat.
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Henry McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation order for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties Tuesday morning. Up to 1.7 million people have now been ordered to leave their homes as the U.S. braces for Hurricane Florence.
The storm is likely to bring significant rain to the Carolinas, where some places could see upwards of 20 inches, the update said. "If you've ever doubted the destructiveness of a hurricane, what's happening here will make you a believer".
"This is risky, unsafe times in New Bern".
Flooding and a strong storm surge prompted more than 90 calls to the emergency operation center in Craven County, N.C., for residents trapped in vehicles and homes, spokeswoman Amber Parker said. "When the conditions in the area intensified suddenly, we made the call to have our news staff evacuate the area and team up with our sister station WPDE in Myrtle Beach to continue covering the storm and providing our viewers with vital, potentially life-saving, information". A Doppler radar picture in the background that kept rolling amid the silence showed Florence swirling toward the coast.
"So that really did just happen", Jaime McCutcheon, one of the station's anchors, tweeted.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", tweeted the city of New Bern.