Hurricane Florence Leaves at Least Four Dead in Carolinas

WILMINGTON, N.C.- Florence crashed into the Carolina coast on Friday, felling trees, dumping nearly three feet of rain on some spots and leading to the death of four people before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc, according to Reuters.

The storm’s first casualties included a mother and her baby, who died when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina. The child’s father was injured and taken to a hospital.

In Pender County, North Carolina, a woman suffered a fatal heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris. A fourth victim was killed in Lenoir County while plugging in a generator, according to the governor’s office.

“To those in the storm’s path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said at a news conference in Raleigh, adding that Florence would “continue its violent grind across the state for days.”

 Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120-mph winds on Thursday, but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore.

After landfall, Florence slowed to a pace that would see the system likely lingering for days. The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm but said life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic freshwater flooding were expected over portions of North and South Carolina.

The storm surge, water pushed by a storm over land that would normally be dry, “overwhelmed” the town of New Bern at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said.

Parts of North and South Carolina were forecast to get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 meter).

More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse. Many of the evacuees had pets with them.

Maysie Baumgardner, 7, sheltered with her family at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as Florence’s floodwaters filled the streets. “I’m a little bit scared right now,” she said, “but I have my iPad and I’m watching Netflix.”

Cooper said Florence was expected to cover almost all of North Carolina in several feet of water.

H.M

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