Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

From space: Tropical storm Florence hits US east coast

From space: Tropical storm Florence hits US east coast

Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for North Carolina as Tropical Storm Florence continues to dump an "epic" amount of rainfall on the U.S. state.

The National Hurricane Center says top sustained winds have dropped to near 50 miles per hour (80 kph) with higher gusts, and Florence is expected to become a tropical depression later Saturday.

More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate. Authorities warned about potential landslides and numerous roads were closed.

Utility crews worked to restore electricity even as flood waters inundated whole communities.

"This is a hurricane event followed by a flood event", said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.

Wilmington Police confirmed that a mother and her infant died when a tree fell on their home.

In Wilmington, near where the eye of the storm touched down, trees and power lines were felled and many windows broken.

"Most storm-related deaths occur from drowning in floodwaters", a press release stated.

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The National Hurricane Center described Florence's path as a wobble around southeastern North Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence's winds have slowed to tropical storm strength, and said the storm is moving slowly inland with sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour and higher gusts.

In New Bern, North Carolina, one of the cities hardest-hit by the storm that made landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane, a beloved bear statue and its thick pedestal were uprooted and washed away.

Florence's death toll could rise as a number of deaths are being investigated to see if they were caused by the storm.

Leaves, branches and other debris surround and cover a auto during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. on Friday.

The military announced Saturday morning it was deploying almost 200 soldiers to assist in Hurricane Florence response and recovery efforts, along with 100 trucks and equipment. Those roads included Interstate 40 in Duplin County; N.C. 12 in Dare, Hyde and Carteret counties; N.C. 130 in Brunswick County; N.C. 55 in Craven and Pamlico counties; N.C. 58 in Carteret and Jones counties; and N.C. 904 in Brunswick County.

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

Officials from Cumberland County, Fayetteville and the town of Wade issued the order early Saturday afternoon, saying residents there face "imminent danger" from flood waters expected to arrive in the area soon.

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More than 300 volunteers from nine USA states have joined the relief effort in North Carolina, according to ABC News. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man perished when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

The rising sea crept towards the two-storey home of Tom Copeland, who lives on a spit of land surrounded by water in Swansboro.

"Our friend behind our old house, they have gators swimming in the water".

"It's unsafe, a lot of trees", Charlebois said.

The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties. Trump plans a visit to the region next week.

Winds bent trees towards the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power.

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