Florence death toll rises to 5 amid massive deluge

Search teams help those in need from damage caused by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina
Search teams help those in need from damage caused by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina

18 September, 2018

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the storm was posing an even greater risk of flooding than when it first made landfall.

Rainfall in historic Swansboro, a tourist town on the coast dubbed the "friendly city by the sea", had the highest measured rainfall total at a whopping 34 inches.

A member of the US Coast Guard walks down Mill Creek Road checking houses after tropical storm Florence hit Newport North Carolina.

According to the National Hurricane Centre, the storm will travel through upstate SC, be downgraded to a tropical depression, then turn north toward the Ohio Valley.

North Carolina and SC each had modest gains in flood insurance policies, but coverage gaps remain.

An additional 6 to 10 inches of rain is still possible along the southeast border of North Carolina and SC. The previous record was 24 inches (61 cm), set by Hurricane Floyd, which killed 56 people in 1999, said Bryce Link, a meteorologist with private forecasting service DTN Marine Weather.

In Hampstead, North Carolina, a woman died of a heart attack on Friday since emergency crews could not reach her due to fallen trees that blocked the road, local media reported. "It's just better for us to stay at home", she said.

- Another man in Lenoir County was electrocuted while trying to connect two extension cords. Though the popular North Carolina tourist destination seems to have been spared the worst of Florence's wrath, the islands still have some of the fastest rates of sea level rise in the world, almost an inch a year.

One person died at the West Brunswick High School shelter Thursday morning, according to a spokesperson for Brunswick County, NC.

In South Carolina, a woman was killed when she struck a tree while driving, and a couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator being operated inside their home, officials said. Six people died in SC, including four in auto accidents and two from carbon monoxide from a portable generator.

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As of 11:00 am (1500 GMT), maximum sustained winds had weakened to near 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour, but the NHC warned residents of risky storm surges and "catastrophic flash flooding". That will bring additional water to the already-soaked states as well as additional threats like possible landslides near the Appalachians and electrocution threats with downed power lines.

One day after Florence made landfall with 90 miles per hour winds, the storm essentially parked itself over land all day long and poured on the rain.

Torrential rain from Florence is now causing rapid rises in area rivers. "When power is out for extended periods of time, getting life back to normal is extremely difficult; it's hard to do numerous things we usually take for granted without power, like going to the ATM, find groceries, even charge our phones". During Matthew, it reached 58 feet. But forecasters say the worst flooding is yet to come.

He urged against residents attempting to return home, warning that "all roads in the state are at risk of floods".

In New Bern, hundreds of people were rescued from their flood-swamped homes.

The IRS said the policy will apply to people or businesses located within areas designated for individual assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

John Rose owns a furniture business with stores less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the river.

There are flash flood watches in effect across much of North Carolina, northern SC and for portions of western Virginia and southern and eastern West Virginia.

The death toll from the hurricane-turned-tropical storm had climbed to 13 by Saturday evening with 10 deaths reported in NC and three in SC.

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