Trump approves North Carolina disaster declaration for Florence

Credit PA

Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water.

The storm's first casualties, which included a mother and her baby killed when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina, were announced about eight hours after Florence came ashore on Friday (local time).

George Zaytoun chose not to evacuate his house ahead of the storm, which had been deemed a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday. By Friday evening, the eye of the storm had moved to SC.

More than two feet of water had already fallen in some places and was not expected to stop soon. "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave".

In New Bern, a riverfront city near the North Carolina coast that saw storm surges up to 10 feet (3 meters), authorities were rescuing stranded residents and taking stock of damages.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence's winds have slowed to tropical storm strength, and said the storm is moving slowly inland with sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour and higher gusts.

Two people were killed in Lenoir County, according to Emergency Services Director Roger Dail during the storm.

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

Tropical Storm Florence keeps drenching the central Carolinas and is expected to generate up to 380 millimetres of rain before it swings north over the Appalachian Mountains and into the Ohio Valley on Monday.

Strong winds and heavy rain continue to present a danger, and Florence is now being attributed to several deaths.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons (68 trillion liters) of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air.

"The slow motion of the storm will make this a very prolonged flood event", Reid Hawkins, science officer for the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, said in a briefing. Nationwide, airlines cancelled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday.

"Residents should not let their guard down", North Carolina Emergency Management tweeted. CORRECTING TYPO IN CITY NAME People wait to be rescued by members of the U.S. Army during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S., September 14, 2018. The entire area had lost electricity, and some people were in chest-deep water while others retreated to attics, she said.

The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.

South Carolina Department of Transportation head Christy Hall said trees are already down in areas of Horry County and citizens should prepare for flooding.

More than 21,000 people have taken refuge at 157 shelters open across the state. Officials said at least 150 people were "awaiting rescue" early Friday morning as the unsafe.

Across North Carolina, more than 65 school districts are closed, and almost all University of North Carolina system schools have cancelled classes.

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