Five dead as Hurricane Florence downgraded to tropical storm

Pauline Gross
September 15, 2018

A woman and her baby were killed when a tree fell on their house and several more storm-related deaths were reported Friday as Hurricane Florence slammed into the Carolinas, dousing the eastern United States with torrential rain.

They were the first known deaths attributed to Tropical Storm Florence, which was a Category 1 hurricane when it struck the city. Officials in South Carolina's Craven County say conditions are much worse than some residents expected, with almost 500 people calling the local emergency services hotline asking for help.

More than 810,000 people lacked power in North Carolina, and another 170,000 outages were reported in SC, according to emergency-management agencies.

NEW BERN, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence September 14, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina.

"This storm is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days", Cooper said.

As of Friday morning, Atlantic Beach, a town on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier island chain, had already received 76cm of rain, the US Geological Service said.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Florence to a tropical storm on Friday and expected to further downgrade it to a tropical depression by Saturday night. Duke Energy, the area's biggest utility company, said that figure could rise to three million and restoring power could take weeks.

"It can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland", forecasters said, reports CBS News.

Elsewhere in North Carolina, a man was knocked to the ground while outside and died. That is roughly double the rainfall from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, he said. More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds collapsed part of the roof.

In Wilmington, near where the eye of the storm touched down, trees and power lines were felled and many windows were broken.

Top sustained winds are now about 100 km/h and the storm is moving to the west-southwest at 7 km/h - a track that is expected to continue through early Saturday.

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More than 12,000 were in shelters in North Carolina.

A severe inland flood threat is emerging as remnants of Florence pound the Carolinas with almost nonstop rain for a second day since the once major hurricane howled ashore.

"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", Ballance said. These areas will see 3 to 6 inches of rainfall, with isolated cases of 8 inches.

The flooding soon spread into SC.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted around 2 a.m. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the authorities in New Bern said on Twitter.

Evacuation warnings were issued for 1.7 million people in the region. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled.

Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of North and SC.

New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Durham Herald-Sun around 5am that about 200 people had been rescued so far.

Hurricane Florence began lashing the coast Thursday morning, sending pounding waves ashore and rising storm surge.

Hurricane Florence will slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland.

Other reports by GizPress

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