September 15, 2018
Nearly 800,00 without power and mother and infant killed
Florence, downgraded to storm, brings 90mph winds and surge

Officials said five people died on Friday as Hurricane Florence continued to pummel the Carolinas with gusting winds and extremely heavy rain.
A mother and her young child were killed when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina; a woman died in Pender county, north of Wilmington; and two elderly men died in Lenoir county.
Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday evening, but still had sustained winds of 70mph. Officials warned that up to 50in of rain could cause catastrophic flooding into next week, with warnings that landslides could occur across western North Carolina.
On Saturday morning, top sustained winds had weakened to 50mph as the storm moved inland at 5mph, about 35 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The rain continued, forecasters saying parts of North and South Carolina could expect an additional 10in to 15in. Totals could reach between 30in and 40in in some areas.
The White House said Donald Trump had approved a disaster declaration for North Carolina.
The storm left nearly 800,000 homes and businesses without power in North Carolina. The first confirmed deaths came on Friday morning, when a mother and her child were killed in Wilmington. The child’s father was also injured and was taken to hospital.
Ponder county officials said a woman died in Hampstead, about 10 miles north-east of Wilmington and two miles from the coast. Collins said the woman called 911 on Friday morning with a medical emergency, but crews were unable to reach her because of downed trees in the road.
In Kinston a 78-year-old man was electrocuted, reportedly attempting to connect extension cords in the rain. A 77-year-old man was found outside his home after checking on his hunting dogs, officials said.
Florence made landfall as a category 1 hurricane just outside Wilmington, where trees were bent almost to the ground by winds that gusted at 105mph. Fifty miles north, in Jacksonville, more than 60 occupants of a motel were forced to evacuate as the building crumbled. Further north, in the city of New Bern, authorities were scrambling to reach nearly 150 people stranded by flooding.
Forecasters have warned of historic rainfall along the Carolina coast as the storm crawls south-west towards South Carolina at just 3mph. Severe freshwater flooding is expected in the following days as the region braces for an extended period of extreme weather.
Donald Trump praised the “incredible job” being done by Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) workers and first-responders on the ground in an early morning tweet. The president was still facing criticism over his attempt to downplay the almost 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, a toll he suggested had been inflated by his political opponents. Trump reiterated this view on Twitter on Friday night, saying the death toll had risen “like magic” and that the method for calculating the death toll “was never done with previous hurricanes”.
Five dead as Florence lashes Carolinas with howling winds and driving rain
On the streets of Wilmington, residents emerged to inspect the damage after the eye of the storm passed over the historic port city as debris littered the streets.
The storm surge in Wilmington was expected to top off at 13ft (4 metres). The next major population centre in Florence’s path, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, was lashed with rain and gusts throughout the morning. The storm was expected to reach the city, which has a population of 30,000, by the evening. Evacuation orders were in place throughout the Carolina coastline.
Although the roads in Myrtle Beach remained eerily quiet, the Waffle House, a chain restaurant known throughout the American south, remained open, serving an emergency menu. Workers said they would keep the store open even if they lost power and endured minor flooding.
In one of the city’s low-income housing communities, Sandygate Village, many residents reported being unable to evacuate due to the financial burden.
Henry Mitchell, 57, who is disabled and unemployed, said: “It’s too expensive to move out to a hotel. I could be out for days and I can’t afford to leave my home behind.”
The housing blocks are a few hundred feet from the Waccamaw river, which forecasters were expecting to flood significantly during and after the hurricane.
In Conway, about eight miles north of Myrtle Beach, 27-year-old Rocky Session spent Friday morning making last-minute adjustments to his trailer home – a few bars of wood over the windows.
“I feel a little bit better,” he said “But this will probably be all flooded later today.”
He added: “I’m pretty sure my trailer’s not gonna blow away – it’s strapped down – but I’m worried about flooding.”
Session and his wife, Holly Dew, evacuated their single-story home on Thursday and were staying in a nearby hotel. They would have moved further, they said, but Dew’s mother, Deborah, is in intensive care in the Conway Medical Center hospital, too sick to move.
About 2,200 patients in seven South Carolina hospitals had already been evacuated.
The storm will be a major test for Fema, a year after the agency was criticised for its response to Maria in Puerto Rico.
About 9,700 national guard troops and civilians were stationed throughout the area with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats for use in rescue operations in the aftermath.
The National Hurricane Center projected that Florence will eventually turn towards the north-east over the southern Appalachians, moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England as a tropical depression by the middle of next week.
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