Three dead as Hurricane Florence batters U.S. East Coast

Terry Joseph
September 17, 2018

Authorities have confirmed those storm-related deaths, including a mother and her infant child who died after a tree fell on their home in New Hanover County, where the storm hit Friday morning with a 105 miles per hour wind gust, the strongest wind in the city since 1958. The child's father was taken to a hospital.

The states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, as well as Washington D.C., declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm.

Five people have already died as a result of Florence. A 78-year-old man connecting extension cords in the rain was electrocuted, according to Roger Dail, the Lenoir County director of emergency services. Catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected over portions of North Carolina and SC.

Family members discovered his body.

Hurricane Irma destroyed Kathy Griffin's house in Florida previous year, and it could be days before she finds out whether Florence smashed her fifth-story condominium in Wrightsville Beach, where authorities said utilities could be out for days or weeks. The system was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon but remained a slow-moving destructive storm.

"When the conditions in the area intensified suddenly, we made the call to have our news staff evacuate the area and team up with our sister station WPDE in Myrtle Beach to continue covering the storm and providing our viewers with vital, potentially life-saving, information", General Manager Matt Bowman said in a statement posted to the station's website.

What the hurricane "has now lost in terms of maximum wind speeds near its center, it has now gained in terms of sheer expansiveness", said Peter Mullinax, a meteorologist at Planalytics. "Do not go, and stay in place". By midnight, his rain gauge showed that he'd gotten 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain since midafternoon.

Florence's storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which dropped off from an alarming 140 miles per hour earlier in the week.

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.

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A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina. "You need to go on and get out now".

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Editor's Note: A previous version of this article reported two deaths in Carteret County, North Carolina.

"I about jumped out of my skin", he said in a phone interview Friday morning.

Officials said Friday they expected the same amount of rainfall seen during Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

"We were trying to figure out if we had enough finances to get out and if we were to get out, were we going to be able to get back home".

"We're in God's hands", said Rick Foreman, pastor at West Lumberton Baptist Church, as the Lumber River steadily rose Friday and local residents filled sandbags. "I don't know what the status of it is".

Farther up the coast, in New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River trapped people. Volunteers are using private boats to pitch in and help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said. A staff of 114 with access to 94 chainsaws, 12 front-loaders, two bulldozers, 15 backhoes, 16 motor graders, 188 barricades and 116 road-closed and 204 high-water signs is prepared to respond.

Tom Ballance said his wife went to Atlanta and he stayed behind in their New Bern home with their three dogs and a cat.

"It's like a bomb has gone off", Zaytoun told "Good Morning America" Friday. "We have started to see the water recede".

Zaytoun now regrets his decision, he said.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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