Five people have died so far in the state of North Carolina in the United States after Hurricane Florence struck the country’s east coast late on Friday, Reuters reported. Florence, now downgraded to a tropical storm, still poses the threat of storm surges and “catastrophic flooding” in North and South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 pm update on Friday (8.30 am Saturday Indian time).
A woman and her child died when a tree fell on their home, while a woman died of a heart attack as paramedics got stuck amid debris. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted and another died when he was blown down by high winds.
Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on Thursday but was later downgraded to Category 1 before it made landfall at Wrightsville Beach of North Carolina on Friday. The hurricane centre has forecast that it will move west-southwest on Saturday morning local time and then turn west. Florence is expected to move north by Monday and is likely to weaken to a tropical depression by Saturday night.
The forecast for wind speeds has been reduced to 100 km per hour. Florence is expected to lead to as much as 76.2 cm to 101.6 cm of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and into the northeastern coast of South Carolina.
More than 60 people were rescued from a collapsing motel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, reported CBS News.
The Department of Public Safety said as many as 951,000 power outages were reported in both states, according to The Washington Post. More than 22,600 people have been housed in 150 shelters and about 10 million could be affected by the storm.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued a warning to those who stayed behind in defiance of evacuation orders. “There’s going to be more flooding with this hurricane and storm all over the state we think than we’ve ever had before,” he said. “So there will be power lines down, there will be trees down, there will be roads washed out. And it’s going to be difficult for the rescuers to get back in.”
Meanwhile, the White House said President Donald Trump would visit hurricane-hit areas “early to the middle of next week once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts”, AFP reported.