Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Four dead as Florence unleashes torrential floods on Carolinas

Four dead as Florence unleashes torrential floods on Carolinas

Both deaths were reported to the State Medical Examiner's Office by the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office. The child's father was taken to a hospital. A woman in Pender County, North Carolina, died from a heart attack after calling emergency services, as paramedics could not reach her because of fallen trees.

"(Its) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house.

A fourth person reportedly was killed while plugging in a generator in the state's Lenoir County, according to USA media. "The storm is wreaking havoc on our state". The hurricane's storm surge - the wall of water it pushed in from the Atlantic - "overwhelmed" the town of New Bern at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.

He said flooding will continue for days and the full magnitude of the hurricane is unknown.

By Friday evening, almost 640,000 people in North Carolina alone were without power.

The city warns that people "may need to move up to the second story" but tells them to stay put as "we are coming to get you".

NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook the storm surges could push as far as 2 miles (3 km) inland.

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About 20,000 people hunkered down in 157 schools, shelters and a coliseum in Winston-Salem.

As of Thursday morning, forecast models showed the storm bringing more rain than originally thought - officials now predict 35 inches of rain will fall in a two-day period as Florence, now a Category 2 storm with 115 miles per hour sustained winds, will stall over Wilmington after making landfall early Friday morning.

Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm smashes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and crawls slowly inland.

"This is not the end of it", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at FEMA.

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.

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. CORRECTING GRAMMAR AND TYPO IN CITY NAME People are rescued by members of the U.S. Army during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. By that time, emergency crews had already been deployed to parts of the state where people were trapped by floodwaters.

A state of emergency was declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

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Metal signs and roof coverings littered the biggest commercial byway, Market Street, and trees blocked many roads.

"In Harvey, vibration from wind caused [one] to register rain", said hydrodynamics branch chief Robert Holmes.

By 9:30 a.m., more than 500,000 customers were without power across North Carolina, and the Triangle had begun to experience outages. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

An ominous tweet appeared on a historic North Carolina community's Twitter feed about 2 a.m. Friday.

In Wilmington, Mason Tarr said he spent the night at a friend's house but didn't sleep well.

The No. 1 mission right now, Cooper said, is to save lives. "I wonder how it would have been with a Category 4 or 5. We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her familys pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband. "Warmer oceans mean more energy to intensify tropical storms and hurricanes", he said.

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