5 Dead, 'Catastrophic Flooding' as Florence Hovers Over Carolinas

Photo of 5 Dead, 'Catastrophic Flooding' as Florence Hovers Over Carolinas

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm, after barreling into North Carolina with damaging winds and heavy rain, leaving at least five people dead.Police in Wilmington say a mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their house. 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.Officials say two people died in Lenoir County. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords in the rain while another man died when he was knocked down by high winds while checking on his dogs.​Winds slowThe 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. By Friday evening, the eye of the storm had moved to South Carolina. The storm’s movement, not its strength, has forecasters and officials worried.Florence is moving inland at 10 kilometers per hour (6 mph), giving it more time to churn, suck up water, batter the coast, and bring massive amounts of rain inland.Water rescuesHundreds of people in North Carolina have been rescued from rising water. In Craven County, authorities say they received more than 150 telephone calls to rescue people in the historic town of New Bern because water had entered their homes.New Bern resident Latasha Jones is one of the more fortunate ones.“The evacuation was countywide, but since we’re not in a flood zone, we weren’t really worried about that,” she told VOA.“The way our house sits, it’s elevated. We have steps on the sides of the house so it’s a few feet off the ground anyway. And since we’re already on high ground, those two things together kind of help insulate us a little more than, I would say, others,” she said.The hurricane center predicts as much as 101 centimeters (40 inches) of rain for some parts of North Carolina.Thousands without powerUtility officials say nearly 900,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Carolinas on Friday and more were expected to lose power.The White House said Friday U.S. President Donald Trump will travel to areas hit by Hurricane Florence next week, once it has been determined that his travel would not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts. WATCH: Hurricane Florence Comes Ashore

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