Death toll from Florence rises to 7, North Carolina officials say

Death toll from Florence rises to 7, North Carolina officials say

A mother and her infant are dead after a tree fell on their house in Wilmington.

Florence is now a tropical storm, having been downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane since making landfall Friday on the North Carolina coast. The child's injured father was hospitalized. More are expected, as the storm could bring winds up to 45 miles per hour around the area, according to Durham County emergency management officials.

Members of the North Carolina National Guard finish stacking sand bags under a highway overpass near the Lumber River which is expected to flood from Hurricane Florence's rain in Lumberton, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018.

"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm", Cooper said in a statement.

The flooding soon spread into SC, swamping places like North Myrtle Beach, in a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.

The National Hurricane Center downgraded Florence to a tropical storm on Friday and expected to further downgrade it to a tropical depression by Saturday night. The storm knocked out power to almost 930,000 homes and businesses, and the number could keep rising.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, Florence was centered about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving west at 2 mph (4 kph), not even as fast as a person can walk. The deaths were among the first recorded fatalities from the storm, which also killed a 77-year-old man who was knocked over by wind after going outside to check on his dogs.

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Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said over 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon. It blew ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

It was expected to begin pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a watery siege that could go on all weekend.

Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds on Thursday.

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The US National Weather Service has released a flash flood warning as authorities were scrambling to reach almost 150 people now stranded.

CORRECTING TYPO IN CITY NAME Leaves, branches and other debris surround and cover a vehicle during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018.

This story was compiled from McClatchy papers in North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer; and in South Carolina, The State in Columbia, the Beaufort Gazette, The Island Packet in Hilton Head and The Sun News in Myrtle Beach; and supplemented with wire service reports.

Tropical Storm Florence is practically stalled over the Carolinas and the monster storm could dump drenching rains of up to 3½ feet (1 meter).

"I actually think it is one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about", Trump said on Monday.

As Florence moves further inland over the coming days, the storm is expected to gradually weaken.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted around 2:30 a.m.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.

In Wilmington, numerous trees that contributed to its historic beauty are now gone.

Governor Cooper said there have been "several hundred" rescue operations and "there are still some people they need to get to".

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