Deaths reported as Hurricane Florence slams Carolinas
Friday, September 14, 2018, 4:13 PM - A mother and infant were killed in Wilmington when a tree fell on their house as Hurricane Florence crashed into North Carolina on Friday, swamping streets with torrential rain and a powerful storm surge.
Police said they were the first confirmed deaths directly related to storm, while the child's father was taken to the hospital. CNN showed the scene, a small brick house. In Pender County, North Carolina, one woman died after she suffered a heart attack and paramedics were unable to reach her due to blocked roads authorities said.
After landfall, Florence slowed to a pace that meant it would plague the area with days of flooding. The hurricane's storm surge - the wall of water it pushed in from the Atlantic - "overwhelmed" the town of New Bern at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.
"To those in the storm's path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place," he said at a news conference in Raleigh, adding that Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days.
WATCH BELOW: WATER UP TO THE WINDOWS IN NORTH CAROLINA
(TRACKING FLORENCE: Stay with The Weather Network online and on T.V. for our exclusive coverage of the storm. Stormhunters Jaclyn Whittal and Mark Robinson will be LIVE in the Carolinas with the latest)
SLOW-MOVING GIANT MAKES LANDFALL
Flooding from Hurricane Florence swept across the coast early on Friday as the massive storm made landfall near Wrightsville, Beach, North Carolina with sustained winds of 150 km/h. The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7:15 a.m. EDT.
Over half a million homes and businesses were without power by mid morning in North and South Carolina and utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration efforts could take weeks.
Authorities in New Bern, a town of about 30,000 people dating to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater. Calls for help kept coming in as the wind picked up and the tide arrived, said city public information officer Colleen Roberts.
"These are folks who decided to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation," she said. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they’re seeing the floodwaters rise."
Video reports from several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through rippling thigh-high floodwaters in residential neighborhoods.
Florence also blew down trees, including one that went through the roof of Kevin DiLoreto's home in Wilmington. He said all roads leading to his neighborhood were blocked by fallen trees.
"It's insane," he said in a phone interview. "Everybody laughs at the fact that this storm got downgraded ... but I've never seen tree devastation this bad.
"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighborhood and making sure my neighbors are fine, because nobody can get in here."
More than 634,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and South Carolina early on Friday, utility officials said. Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.
Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore. It is expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend.
About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia. Some of those who stayed went to shelters while others stuck it out in their homes.
A LOOK AT LANDFALL AND IMPACT
Rain water flooded streets are pictured as Hurricane Florence moves into the Carolinas in Wilmington, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Roselle Chen
MUST SEE: PURE POWER OF FLORENCE COLLAPSES GAS STATION CANOPY
People walk on a local street as water from Neuse River starts flooding houses upon Hurricane Florence coming ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 13, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
WATCH: THE EYEWALL OF THE HURRICANE HAS LANDED
With files from Reuters, CNN