Florence weakens but epic rains still expected
WILSON ( North Carolina): Tropical Storm Florence was likely to weaken as it swept through the Carolinas but dozens of communities are devastated and “epic” amounts of rain could still fall, officials said.
The storm is expected to become a Tropical Depression as it trudged inland, knocking out power and causing at least eight deaths as flood waters kept rising.
North Carolina officials have reported at least seven storm-related fatalities with unconfirmed reports of a further three deaths.
South Carolina authorities reported one death. “This is still a catastrophic, life threatening storm,” said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Center’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
Winds have dropped to about 65 kph since it roared ashore along the US mid-Atlantic coast on Friday as a hurricane and it is crawling west over two states at 9 kph, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said yesterday.
Taylor said the storm already dumped 30 inches (76.2cm) of rain on some parts of the North Carolina.
“This storm is still deadly and dangerous and it’s expected to turn northward later today into Virginia and the mid-Atlantic,” he said yesterday.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said: “This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches.”
Rivers will continue to rise days after the rain has stopped, he said.
Around 50 stranded people were airlifted by helicopter in North Carolina, said Petty Officer Michael Himes of the US Coast Guard. More than 26,000 hunkered down in shelters. Roads were closed and authorities warned of landslides, tornadoes and flash floods, with dams and bridges in peril as rivers and creeks swelled.
As of Saturday, about 676,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina,
along with 119,000 in South Carolina
The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties
Trump, who plans to visit the region next week and he tweeted his “deepest sympathies and warmth” to the families and friends of those who had lost their lives
Florence was drifting westward over South Carolina, reaching about 40km southeast of Columbia South Carolina at yesterday morning, the NHC said.
In Fayette eville, a North Carolina city of about 210,000 people, authorities told thousands of residents near the Cape Fear River and Little River to get out of their homes because of the flood risk.
“If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said at a news conference.
Rising dangers: Flood waters lapping at a high water warning sign that was partially pushed over by Hurricane Florence on Oak Island, North Carolina.
Taking a beating: (From top, clockwise): A Hong Kong fireman helping a child cross a flooded street at the village of Lei Yu Mun.A giant wave striking the coast in Hong Kong. Residents in Shenzhen, China, stocking up on bottled water at a supermarket in preparation for Typhoon Mangkhut. A woman struggling with her umbrella in Shenzhen.
On the job: Rescue workers standing with a search dog as they prepare to continue rescue efforts after Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina.