Natural DisasterUnited States

Florence turns deadly, inundates Carolinas with ‘historic’ rainfall

A woman and her baby were killed when a tree fell on their house and other storm-related deaths were reported

September 15, 2018 4:43 PM (UTC+8)
The Neuse River floods the waterfront in New Bern, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018, during Tropical Storm Florence. Photo: AFP / Logan Cyrus

As Filipinos struggled to cope with the wrath of Super Typhoon Mangkhut on Saturday, people on the other side of the world felt the Atlantic Ocean’s deadly rage, in the form of Tropical Storm Florence.

A woman and her baby were killed when a tree fell on their house and other storm-related deaths were reported as Florence slammed into the states of North and South Carolina, dousing the eastern United States with torrential rain, AFP reported. There were at least three other deaths confirmed by Friday night local time.

Unlike the latest major storm to hit the Philippines, Florence – which was an extremely powerful hurricane while still over the Atlantic – was downgraded to a tropical storm, but it was still able to whip up a 3-meter storm surge in the town of New Bern, North Carolina. Hundreds of people had to be rescued.

And the danger would continue to be very real for some time, authorities said.

“We are expecting several more days of rain,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.

“Into next week our rivers are going to continue to rise and there will be more significant flooding,” Cooper said.

More than 760,000 customers in North Carolina were without power and 21,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state, AFP reported.

The White House said President Donald Trump was to visit hurricane-hit areas next week “once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts.”

“Great job FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement – not easy, very dangerous, tremendous talent. America is proud of you,” Trump tweeted on Friday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence had the potential to dump historic amounts of rain on North and South Carolina, as much as a meter in some places. Cooper described the amount of rainfall from the storm as a “1,000-year event.”

In the port city of Wilmington, near where the eye of the hurricane touched down in North Carolina, trees and power lines were felled and many windows were broken. The streets were mostly deserted and some were blocked by fallen trees.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.

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