At Least 5 Dead from Hurricane Florence

Cristina Cross
September 15, 2018

The father was taken to hospital, reportedly in a critical condition. And a woman suffered a heart attack Friday and emergency responders were not able to get to her in time, said Tom Collins, Pender County emergency management director.

"Very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and feared splintering trees would pummel her house.

"We knew this was going to be a big storm, but it is going to be of epic proportions", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference in Raleigh.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says that as the hurricane hit the coast overnight, officers "responded to 108 calls for service and 30 collisions". But these winds combined with a giant storm surge and deluge of rain are brewing havoc along the coast.

Cooper said the state was getting forecasts of rivers being higher than they were during Hurricane Matthew in 2016 when North Carolina saw significant flooding across the state. Six sheriff's officers came to his house to rescue him Friday morning, but he didn't need to leave since the water was dropping by then.

At least 188,000 people were without power in North Carolina and SC early on Friday.

Both the Trent and Neuse rivers overflowed their banks, flooding homes, stores and streets and trapping many people in their houses.

Travel on the state's roads has grown "extremely hazardous", said Jim Trogdon, the North Carolina transportation secretary, who warned in a late-morning briefing that a 500- to 1,000-year "flood event is anticipated".

"I think it's going to be a little worse than other people thought", he said, looking out over the beach.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and into the northeastern coast of SC in spots.

Florence's rain will bring 40 inches to some parts of the Carolinas, forecasters said.

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A mother and infant in North Carolina were among the first reported fatalities linked to Hurricane Florence.

Many residential streets were blocked by fallen trees, with firefighters working in one neighborhood to rescue family members after a tree came down on their home - injuring at least one person.

Bob Better is leading a swift boat rescue team from MA, one of two out of state FEMA teams helping people trapped by water.

In Wilmington, near where the eye of the hurricane touched down, trees and power lines were down and many windows had been broken.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

"In an effort to proactively aid our customers, we are launching a community donation program, together with the Southeastern Grocers Gives Foundation, in support of the American Red Cross Disaster Relief to assist those impacted by Hurricane Florence", Anthony Hucker, president and CEO of Jacksonville, Fla. -based Southeastern Grocers, said in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile more than 630,000 homes and businesses were left without power by Friday afternoon.

The NHC said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles (130 kms) from the centre of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 195 miles (315 kms) out.

Mike Seidel was shooting a live segment in Wilmington, North Carolina for the Weather Channel. Wilmington Deputy Fire Chief Steve Mason said the victims died at the scene.

Florence had been a Category-3 hurricane on Thursday but dropped to Category-1 before coming ashore. "I wonder how it would have been with a Category 4 or 5".

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

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