9 dead as Florence leaves heavy flooding in Carolinas

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Police in Wilmington, North Carolina, tweeted that a mother and infant died when a tree fell on their house; the baby's father was injured.

A woman in Hampstead, in Pender County, died of an apparent heart attack after emergency crews could not clear debris to get to her. The southeast part of the state is expected to get more than twice that amount in the days ahead, said Bryce Link, a meteorologist at DTN Marine Weather, a forecasting service.

A 78-year-old man was electrocuted at a home on Silver Smith Circle in Kinston early Friday morning while trying to connect two extension cords outside in the rain.

"The storm is wreaking havoc on our state, and we're deeply concerned for farms, for businesses, for schools and even for whole communities that might be wiped away", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, D, said. Cooper cited a National Weather Service forecast that said almost the entire state could be covered in several feet of water.

The biggest threat brought by Florence, which has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, is not wind but water.

It is now a tropical storm with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), but a gust of 112 miles per hour (180 kph) was reported just offshore. And about 46 miles farther up the waterfront, in New Bern, about 150 people were waiting to be rescued from floods on the Neuse River, WXII-TV reported.

A local reporter has been panned online for hamming up just how strong the winds were during a live TV cross.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with storm-struck states and is ready to respond to any breaches, a spokeswoman, Maggie Sauerhage, said.

Rescued: More than 400 people needed help in high waters in New Bern and Jacksonville, North Carolina.

People being rescued by the US Army in New Bern North Carolina
People being rescued by the US Army in New Bern North Carolina

New Bern resident Dan Eudy said he and his brother were awakened on Thursday night by the sound of a boat ramming against his front porch.

The tree's massive size required special equipment from rescuers also battling whipping winds and pelting rain to extricate them. "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was", he said.

He said he didn't know the family well but that the couple had multiple young children.

The tidal cycle also affects storm surge, which is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides.

The powerful storm already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and forecasters say that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

WILMINGTON, NC - SEPTEMBER 14: Firefighters look into a home that a large tree fell on that has three people trapped after Hurricane Florence hit the area on September 14, 2018 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He made a plan B: If the water reached the house, he'd take the pets upstairs to the second floor.

Meanwhile the White House said President Trump will tour areas affected by Florence next week, once it is determined that his visit will not disrupt rescue and recovery operations.

And on Saturday evening, Duke Energy said heavy rains caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station outside Wilmington, North Carolina. Hurricane-force winds were extending out up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 195 miles, the center said. The Carteret Country Sheriff's Department confirmed that these two deaths initially reported as a result of Florence were a result of an apparent murder-suicide.

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