Florence, a wet and unwanted visitor, besieges Carolinas

Gwen Vasquez
September 16, 2018

Authorities in the U.S. state of North Carolina have warned residents that flooding could get worse.

The storm's first casualties, which included a mother and her baby killed when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina, were announced about eight hours after Florence came ashore on Friday (local time). The father was hospitalized with injuries. In Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack after paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.

In Kinston, a city southeast of Raleigh, two people died in the storm.

A 78-year-old man in Kinston, North Carolina, was electrocuted when he tried to connect two extension cords outside in the rain, according to Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail.

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm but flooding and heavy rain are still a danger to residents of the Carolinas, weather officials say.

The centre of the slow-moving storm, downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane after it came ashore Friday afternoon, was almost stalled over SC early Saturday, about 55 kilometres west of Myrtle Beach, moving west-southwest at just 8 km/h and scooping massive amounts of moisture from the sea.

Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, knocking out power and causing at least eight deaths as flood waters that have devastated many communities kept rising.

Officials in New Bern said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.

Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.

Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order lifting evacuation orders for Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester and the Edisto Beach area of Colleton County effective at noon Saturday. Along with other home cleanup and fix work ministries, Frazier said his group works to "basically restore somebody back to where they were as much as we can". "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later cancelled.

More news: 'Don't play games with it': Florence takes aim at Carolinas

In Washington, President Donald Trump was briefed by telephone Saturday on Florence's impact.

Before sunrise, high winds and storm surge from Hurricane Florence hits Swansboro N.C., on September 14, 2018.

If Florence doesn't wipe out oceanfront homes on stilts along the Carolinas coast, rising sea levels will. Florence lashed low-lying barrier islands that experience some of the fastest rates of sea level rise observed anywhere in the world, almost an inch (2.5 centimeters) a year.

More than 22,600 people in North Carolina were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena. Numerous evacuees took their pets. Trump planned a visit to the region next week.

In its initial onslaught along the coast, Florence buckled buildings, deluged entire communities and knocked out power to more than 900,000 homes and businesses.

Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons (68 trillion litres) of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland. More than 360 people have been carried to safety since Thursday night amid rising waters from a river swelled by both rain and salty storm surge.

Areas like New Bern also could see an additional 3 to 5 feet of storm surge as high tide combines with the seawater still being pushed ashore by Florence, Graham said.

But the wind is not the main threat to people and property from the storm; it's thestorm surgeandrainfall, which combined have caused serious flooding in the low-lying coastal regions of the Carolinas.

Water rescues were continuing on Saturday.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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