Florence, now a tropical storm, still poses ‘catastrophic’ flood threat — has killed at least 5

The National Weather Service said Florence was “slowly weakening,” though it still threatened “catastrophic flooding” over the Carolinas.

WILMINGTON, N.C. — At least five people were killed after Hurricane Florence crashed ashore on North Carolina’s coast Friday morning, ripping apart roofs with extreme winds, threatening massive storm surges and requiring dozens of water rescues.

Hours after Florence’s eye made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, northeast of Wilmington, the storm wobbled along the coast with a slow grind. Its lumbering pace propelled fears that flooding would worsen during high tide and force rivers to crest at record levels.

 

The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday evening, and the National Weather Service said early Saturday that it was “slowly weakening.” Its sustained winds had weakened to 50 mph and were expected to decrease further.

“Catastrophic flooding” of as much as five feet of water is forecastalong coastal communities on Saturday, while areas further inland through southwest Virginia could see as much as 15 inches of rainfall.

The heavy rain could result in “life-threatening flash flooding” and trigger landslides, the service said. Florence is expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Saturday evening as it turns northwest.


Here’s the latest on Tropical Storm Florence:

  • A mother and her 8-month-old child died in Wilmington when a tree fell on their home, police said. Another woman died in Pender County after suffering a medical condition, and two deaths occurred in Lenoir County.
  • The storm made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m. ET Friday. As of shortly before 11 p.m., Florence’s center moved into extreme eastern South Carolina and was about 15 miles west-northwest of Myrtle Beach and was moving west-southwest at around 5 mph.
  • There were more than 788,000 power outages as of Friday night in North Carolina, according to the state department of public safety. More than 66,000 customers in South Carolina were also in the dark.
  • More than 300 people were rescued in New Bern, north of Wilmington.
  • About 20,000 people in North Carolina sought refuge in more than 150 shelters, officials said. In South Carolina, there were more than 6,000 people in shelters Friday afternoon.
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