Mum, baby vic­tims in fury of Florence

The Sunday Times - - World - WILMINGTON

HUR­RI­CANE Florence has bar­relled into the Carolina coast and moved in­land, knock­ing down trees, flood­ing rivers, dump­ing sheets of rain and lead­ing to the deaths of five peo­ple be­fore it was down­graded to a trop­i­cal storm still ca­pa­ble of wreak­ing havoc.

A mother and her baby died when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina. The child’s in­jured fa­ther was taken to hos­pi­tal. Another woman died of a heart at­tack, with paramedics try­ing to reach her blocked by de­bris.

A 78-year-old man was elec­tro­cuted at­tempt­ing to con­nect ex­ten­sion cords and a man died when he was blown down by high winds while check­ing on his dogs.

Florence had been a Cat­e­gory 3 hur­ri­cane on the fivestep Saf­fir-Simp­son scale with 195km/h winds on Thurs­day, but dropped to a Cat­e­gory 1 hur­ri­cane be­fore com­ing ashore.

The Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter down­graded it to a trop­i­cal storm yes­ter­day, but warned that life-threat­en­ing storm surges — in which wa­ter is pushed by a storm over land that would nor­mally be dry caus­ing cat­a­strophic fresh­wa­ter flood­ing — were still ex­pected.

The cen­tre of the hur­ri­cane’s eye came ashore close to Wilmington, with sus­tained winds of 150km/h, the NHC said.

By yes­ter­day evening, the cen­tre of the storm had moved to east­ern South Carolina, with max­i­mum sus­tained winds of 112km/h.

Parts of North and South Carolina were fore­cast to get as much as a me­tre of rain.

More than 60 peo­ple, in­clud­ing many chil­dren, were evac­u­ated from a ho­tel in Jack­sonville, North Carolina, af­ter strong winds col­lapsed part of the roof. Many of the evac­uees took their pets.

At­lantic Beach, on the Outer Banks bar­rier is­lands, had re­ceived 76cm of rain, the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey said.

The White House said Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had spo­ken with of­fi­cials, as­sur­ing them the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment was pre­pared to help. Mr Trump planned to visit the re­gion next week.

Nearly 900,000 homes and busi­nesses were with­out power in the Caroli­nas yes­ter­day, util­ity of­fi­cials said. Util­ity com­pa­nies said mil­lions were ex­pected to lose power and restora­tion could take weeks.

The storm was ex­pected to move across parts of south-east North Carolina and east­ern South Carolina yes­ter­day, then head north over the west­ern Caroli­nas and cen­tral Ap­palachian Moun­tains, the NHC said. Sig­nif­i­cant weak­en­ing was ex­pected over the week­end.

About 10 mil­lion peo­ple could be af­fected by the storm.

High and dry: A boat wedged in trees dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Florence in Ori­en­tal, North Carolina. Pic­ture: Angie Propst/AP

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