Mother, baby killed as Hurricane Florence swamps Carolinas

Howard TerrySep 15, 2018

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm, after barreling into North Carolina with damaging winds and heavy rain, leaving at least five people dead. "The father was transported to (New Hanover Regional Medical Center) with injuries". Local media said the woman had suffered a heart attack.

The hurricane made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at about 7:17 a.m., the National Hurricane Center said.

More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing cinderblock motel.

Hundreds of people needed to be rescued after becoming trapped in their homes by a storm surge of up to three metres in New Bern, a town of 30,000 in North Carolina at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers.

North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).

"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.

Food Lion, Bi-Lo, Aldi, Lidl, Kroger, Harris Teeter, Walmart and Publix were among the chains announcing temporary store closures in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia as Florence passes through the region.

Florence remains a Category 1 storm, and it's spinning hurricane-force winds up to 70 miles from its center.

People survey the damage on Front Street in downtown New Bern, North Carolina.

The storm was expected to head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

Video reports from several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through rippling thigh-high floodwaters in residential neighborhoods.

It's about the water, not the wind, with Hurricane Florence making an extended stay along the North Carolina coast. That's down from a high of 140mph, but still expected to cause "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall". As the storm moves into hilly terrain, it's also expected to unleash catastrophic and potentially deadly flash flooding and possibly mud slides, the hurricane center warned.

U.S. Southeast power companies said almost 440,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and SC were without power on Friday as Hurricane Florence hit the coast. Although the storm is now a Category 1 hurricane, it is still dumping feet of rain over coastal communities.

Parts of the Carolinas are expected to see 20 to 30 inches of rain over the next seven days.

The National Hurricane Centre downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday, but warned it would dump as much as 70 to 100 centimetres of rain on the coasts of North and SC.

After landfall, Florence slowed to a pace that meant it would plague the area with days of flooding.

"WPD can confirm the first two fatalities of Hurricane #Florence in Wilmington".

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".

"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending", Cooper said.

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