Florence plows inland, leaving five dead, states flooded

Share

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper described the hurricane as likely to "continue its violent grind for days" and described the severity of the downfalls as a "1,000 year event".

Having punished the Carolinas with winds, heavy rains and record flooding, Hurricane Florence was downgraded Friday afternoon to a tropical storm, still packing a punch with 70 miles per hour winds.

In Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 people on North Carolina's Atlantic coastline along the Cape Fear River that is home to historic mansions and even a decommissioned World War Two-era battleship, streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris.

The casualties include a mother and baby who were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina. Duke Energy, the area's biggest utility company, said that figure could rise to three million and restoring power could take weeks.

In addition, a woman in Hampstead suffered a heart attack Friday morning, but emergency crews could not reach her before she died because of downed trees in the road, according to Tom Collins, Director of Emergency Management.

Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence in New Bern, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018.

Carteret County officials said Saturday that two people had died there, but the cause of those deaths couldn't be determined. The entire area had lost electricity, and some people were in chest-deep water while others retreated to attics, she said.

In New Bern, at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers in North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000.

Hurricane-force winds were extending out up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 195 miles, the center said. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did. The National Hurricane Centre in Miami says the core of Florence was located at 11pm Friday about 20 kilometres west-northwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.

More news: More than 480,000 without power in NC as Florence makes landfall
More news: U.S. seeking new trade talks with China
More news: SpaceX Signs its First Private Passenger to Fly 'Round the Moon

A day after Florence blew ashore in North Carolina with 90 miles per hour winds, more than 2ft of rain had fallen in places, with forecasters saying there could be an additional one-and-a-half feet by the end of the weekend.

At least five people have died in storm conditions in North Carolina, according to authorities.

On Saturday some residents tried to return to home, driving through flooded highways armed with chainsaws to clear fallen pine needle trees that covered the road.

New Bern resident Latasha Jones is one of the more fortunate ones.

Another woman who was rescued by another group in New Bern told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360˚" that she and her family thought they would be safe in their brick home and heard the storm had been downgraded from a Category 4. One team from Maryland helped with about 40 rescues in New Bern starting Thursday, member Mitchell Rusland said. I can not overstate it: Flood waters are rising.

"Hurricanes normally come in and they go inland, which sucks the power out of them as they go over the land", he said.

Meanwhile, CBS affiliate WNCT reports that more than 60 people, including an infant and children, were rescued from a hotel in Jacksonville, N.C. after strong winds threatened the structural integrity of the building.

"The worst of the storm is over", Wright tells TIME.

"Honestly, I grew up in Wilmington".

Share