Florence downgraded to tropical storm
Florence, which made landfall Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, is now a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph. Life-threatening storm surge will continue Friday night and catastrophic flooding is expected over portions of North and South Carolina through the weekend, the National Hurricane Center said.
At least four people, including a mother and her infant, have died in North Carolina as Tropical Storm Florence slowly moves through the Carolinas, officials said Friday.
After coming ashore Friday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon.
Two people died in Wilmington after a tree fell on their house, the city’s police department said.
“WPD can confirm the first two fatalities of Hurricane #Florence in Wilmington. A mother and infant were killed when a tree fell on their house,” police tweeted Friday afternoon. “The father was transported to (New Hanover Regional Medical Center) with injuries.”
The hospital said it has received three injured patients.
In the town of Hampstead, emergency responders going to a call for cardiac arrest Friday morning found their path blocked by downed trees. When they got to the home, the woman was deceased, Chad McEwen, assistant county manager for Pender County, said.
The fourth person who died was a man in Lenoir County who was hooking up a generator, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said.
Florence is inching along after making landfall in North Carolina, trapping people in flooded homes and promising days of destruction and human suffering.
Storm surges, punishing winds and rain are turning some towns into rushing rivers — and the storm is expected to crawl over parts of the Carolinas into the weekend, pounding some of the same areas over and over.
“The storm is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days,” Cooper warned residents at a news conference.
In the besieged city of New Bern, North Carolina, rescuers had plucked more than 200 people from rising waters by midmorning, but about 150 more had to wait as conditions worsened and a storm surge reached 10 feet, officials said.
By Friday, Florence already had:
• Sapped power to more than 620,000 customers in North and South Carolina, emergency officials said.
• Forced 26,000 people into more than 200 emergency shelters across the Carolinas.
• Pushed more than 60 people to evacuate from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after part of the roof collapsed, city officials said.
• Prompted 4,000 National Guard soldiers and 40,000 electric workers to mobilize in response.
• Canceled more than 1,100 flights along the East Coast on Friday and Saturday.