Florence un­leashes her deadly fury

Mother, baby among dead as tree crashes onto house

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS -

WILMINGTON: Hur­ri­cane Florence is be­ing blamed for tak­ing sev­eral lives in North Carolina, in­clud­ing that of a woman and her in­fant child, who were killed when a mas­sive tree crashed through their mod­est brick home.

A man elec­tro­cuted while plug­ging in a gen­er­a­tor dur­ing heavy rain, and an­other knocked down by wind were among other ca­su­al­ties re­ported from the mon­ster storm lash­ing the state’s south­east.

Spe­cial equip­ment was called in by res­cuers bat­tling whip­ping winds and pelt­ing rain to ex­tri­cate the mother and child from be­neath the mas­sive tree in Wilmington. Fire Chief Steve Ma­son said the pair died at the scene.

“The size of the tree is not some­thing you could sim­ply cut with a chain­saw and re­move,” he said. “It re­quired a tremen­dous amount of heavy lift­ing, airbags and saws.”

Neigh­bour Adam Sparks said emer­gency re­spon­ders ar­rived at the house across the street about the time his power went out and the storm was in­ten­si­fy­ing.

“It went from zero to 100 real quick,” he said. “Re­ally all you could do is stay in­side and hope for the best.”

At first Mr Sparks thought the fire­fight­ers were there to help re­store elec­tric­ity, but when he saw po­lice and paramedics ar­rive, he knew it was some­thing much more tragic.

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

“It was very sad, very tragic ... I couldn’t even imag­ine,” he said.

In Kin­ston, more than an hour’s drive in­land from the coast, Lenoir County spokesman Bryan Hanks said a man was elec­tro­cuted while try­ing to con­nect ex­ten­sion cords out­side in the rain.

The body of the 78-year- old was found by fam­ily mem­bers on Fri­day morn­ing.

Gover­nor Roy Cooper’s of­fice said the man died while plug­ging in a gen­er­a­tor.

Mr Hanks said a fourth per­son died while check­ing on his hunt­ing dogs. Au­thor­i­ties be­lieve he was blown over by the wind.

Emer­gency of­fi­cials yes­ter­day warned res­i­dents that the peril had prob­a­bly not passed, as the storm con­tin­ued to dump tor­ren­tial rain.

Pic­tures: AFP, AP

BAT­TERED: (Clock­wise from main) the tree that killed a mother and her baby; vol­un­teers res­cue res­i­dents and pets; a house in peril.

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