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Trump approves North Carolina disaster declaration for Florence

Trump approves North Carolina disaster declaration for Florence

A mother and her infant are dead after a tree fell on their house in Wilmington. The child's injured father was hospitalized. A woman in Pender County also died when a fallen tree prevented emergency crews from reaching her while she suffered a heart attack, a county spokeswoman said. Two men died in Lenoir County, one electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords and the other killed when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs. The deaths were among the first recorded fatalities from the storm, which also killed a 77-year-old man who was knocked over by wind after going outside to check on his dogs.

Florence "will continue to track slowly inland through the Carolinas this weekend", the National Weather Service said in its 8:00 a.m. update Saturday.

Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore.

Florence crashed ashore in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane Friday, and was downgraded to a tropical storm the same afternoon.

More ominously, forecasters said the onslaught on the coast would last for hours and hours because Florence had come nearly to a dead halt at just 3 mph (6 kph) as of midday.

The National Hurricane Centre in Miami says the core of Florence was located at 11pm Friday about 20 kilometres west-northwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.

New Bern, a city of about 29,000 people, sits on a peninsula between the Neuse and Trent rivers. About 4,300 homes were damaged, she said, affecting a third of the small town's population.

Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.

"We've got nearly 20,000 people in 157 shelters", Cooper said. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they are seeing the floodwaters rise". They ventured out in life jackets into waste-deep water to tie the boat and another floating by to a tree.

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Eudy and his family stayed home in New Bern partly to protect their house.

United States correspondent Cordelia Lynch, who is in New Bern, said: "This community in the weeks and months to come is up against a great deal of flooding". Through Tuesday, 5 to 10 inches of rain, and isolated 15-inch amounts, are forecast to fall across central and western North Carolina and southwestern Virginia.

More than 22,600 people in North Carolina were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena. Numerous evacuees took their pets. The southeast town of Newport, N.C., reported a rainfall total of nearly 24 inches as of midnight Saturday. Trump planned a visit to the region next week. In neighboring SC, 165,000 customers are without power, officials said.

Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.

The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was", he said.

About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order lifting evacuation orders for Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester and the Edisto Beach area of Colleton County effective at noon Saturday.

"Bottom line, tonight, it is just as bad as it was 12 hours ago and it is expected to continue for another 12-24 hours", Begnaud said.


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