Florence drenches US east coast, 5 dead Agen­cies ■ let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Of­fi­cials say weather pat­tern will dump as much as 76­102 cm rain on North and South Caroli­nas and af­fect 10 mil­lion peo­ple

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Ht World -

WILM­ING­TON: Au­thor­i­ties on Satur­day warned res­i­dents dis­placed by a killer hur­ri­cane against re­turn­ing home, as storm Florence dumped “epic amounts of rain­fall” across the east­ern United States, re­sult­ing in lifethreat­en­ing flood­ing.

North Carolina gover­nor Roy Cooper told re­porters that five deaths have been of­fi­cially con­firmed in his state, with sev­eral more un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The fig­ure in­cluded a woman and her baby killed when a tree fell on their house.

Florence made land­fall on Fri­day as a Cat­e­gory 1 hur­ri­cane but has since been down­graded to a trop­i­cal storm, even as it con­tin­ued to wreak havoc along the East Coast, down­ing trees and power lines and forc­ing 20,000 peo­ple to flee to shel­ters.

Cooper had a stark warn­ing to any res­i­dents con­sid­er­ing re­turn­ing to their flooded home towns. “Don’t go back un­til this storm passes and you get the of­fi­cial all clear,” he said.

“Sec­ond, know that water is ris­ing fast ev­ery­where, even in places that don’t typ­i­cally flood. This sys­tem is un­load­ing epic amounts of rain­fall: in some places, mea­sured in feet, not inches.”

In a sep­a­rate brief­ing, Steve Gold­stein of the Na­tional Oceanic & At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NOAA) said some ar­eas have al­ready re­ceived two feet of rain and could ex­pect up to 20 inches more as the sys­tem moved “slowly, nearly sta­tion­ary” over east­ern North Carolina.

“The fact that there haven’t been more deaths and dam­age is amaz­ing and a bless­ing,” said Re­bekah Roth, walk­ing around Wilm­ing­ton’s Winoca Ter­race neigh­bour­hood on Satur­day.

In New Bern, a river­front city near the North Carolina coast that saw storm surges up to three me­tres, au­thor­i­ties were res­cu­ing stranded res­i­dents and tak­ing stock of dam­ages.

“Right now we’ve res­cued over 400 peo­ple. We still have about 100 that want to be res­cued and we have about 1,200 in the shel­ters,” Mayor Dana Out­law told CNN.

More than 800,000 cus­tomers in North Carolina were with­out power and 21,000 peo­ple were be­ing housed in 157 shel­ters across the state.

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups are pre­par­ing to in­spect wa­ter­ways for toxic spills from coal-ash ponds and hog la­goons once the storm sub­sides. Water­keep­ers said it plans to take air­plane and boat trips near flooded in­dus­trial sites and gather water sam­ples.

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

The mil­i­tary an­nounced Satur­day it was de­ploy­ing nearly 200 sol­diers to as­sist in storm-re­lated re­sponse and re­cov­ery ef­forts, along with 100 trucks and equip­ment.

Be­sides fed­eral and state emer­gency crews, res­cuers were be­ing helped by vol­un­teers from the “Ca­jun Navy” - civil­iand equipped with light boats, ca­noes and air mat­tresses - who also turned up in Hous­ton dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Har­vey to carry out water res­cues.

Hur­ri­cane Florence made land­fall Fri­day in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, af­ter stalk­ing the coast­line for days.

Tor­na­does re­main a threat, with the NHC say­ing that “a few tor­na­does are pos­si­ble in south­east­ern North Carolina and north­east­ern South Carolina.”


■ (In North Carolina, clock­wise) Search and res­cue work­ers res­cue a man from floods caused by Hur­ri­cane Florence in River Bend; A man and his kit­ten, Sur­vivor, res­cued from flood­wa­ters in New Bern; Vol­un­teers from across the US help res­cue res­i­dents from their flooded homes in New Bern.(In The Philip­pines, above) Sol­diers as­sist a fam­ily car­ry­ing their sick child af­ter their am­bu­lance failed to make it through a road blocked with de­bris from Ty­phoon Mangkhut in Bag­gao town, Ca­gayan prov­ince; (be­low) Sea water be­ing sucked into the air as Ty­phoon Mangkhut ap­proaches wa­ters near Taitung county, Tai­wan.


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