Friday, September 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Hurricane Guide

Hurricane Florence: First Deaths Reported in North Carolina

Tropical Storm Florence continued to thrash the Carolinas on Friday evening with fierce winds, driving rain and catastrophic flooding. Downgraded from hurricane strength after making landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, the storm had killed at least four people, authorities said, and trapped hundreds of others whose rescues continued as night fell.

Among the dead were a mother and her infant child, who were killed in Wilmington, North Carolina, after a tree fell on their house, police said. More than 360 people had been rescued in the coastal city of New Bern, North Carolina, by Friday evening, and another 140 were in need of help, a city spokeswoman said.

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Florence made landfall about 7:15 a.m. as a Category 1 hurricane, with winds of about 90 mph. By 5 p.m., it was about 50 miles west-southwest of Wilmington, and the wind had dropped to 70 mph.

Forecasters warned that the expected rainfall of up to 40 inches may be the real hazard from the storm, which was expected to slowly move southwest into South Carolina before turning north. The rains are anticipated to continue for days, and flooding is likely to worsen as more rivers spill over their banks. More than 600,000 people have lost power.

— Four deaths are linked to the storm

A mother and her infant were killed when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, police said. The department, which did not release their names, said that the father of the child was transported to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center with injuries. The department did not give any information on how serious those injuries were.

Rescuers spent hours trying to reach the mother and infant who died in Wilmington after they were trapped by a tree and a portion of the roof that had collapsed on them, said J.S. Mason, a deputy fire chief. Mason said the two victims, who were not identified, died before they could be freed. The child’s father was taken to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center with unspecified injuries.

"The sheer size of the tree was not something you could quickly cut with a chain saw," Mason said. "It was a very difficult rescue that required some technical equipment."

A woman died of a heart attack this morning in Hampstead, an unincorporated area of Pender County, North Carolina, officials said.

Emergency crews responding to a 911 call tried to reach the woman’s home, but were delayed by downed trees on streets, said Chad McEwen, assistant county manager. They eventually used a front loader to clear the way, he said.

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