Florence leaves at least four dead, downgraded to tropical storm

Swansboro North Carolina

Five deaths in North Carolina have been linked to Hurricane Florence Friday, including a mother and baby who died in Wilmington.

"WPD can confirm the first two fatalities of Hurricane #Florence in Wilmington. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center briefing said.

Reports out of Wilmington, North Carolina, said that the outer bands of wind and rain from Florence, a Category 2 storm with 105 miles per hour winds, are hitting North Carolina. Roberts said numerous residents live near the Neuse and Trent rivers.

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.

"We knew this was going to be a big storm, but it is going to be of epic proportions", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference in Raleigh. Local media said she had suffered a heart attack.

"You evacuate from water", Cline said.

Whether residents left their homes, sought refuge in a shelter or are hunkering down, the weather service has bad news: After creeping inland, Florence "is expected to slow down even more today and tonight".

Satellites also continue to monitor Hurricane Florence as it passes over North Carolina to help meteorologists make more accurate predictions of how the storm will impact people living in the region. "We're going to have to have patience, we're going to have to be careful and we're going to have to deal with a lot of water". The coming storm surges and heavy rains will cause severe flooding that may submerge parts of the Carolinas in up to 40 inches of rain. Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.

On the morning of September 14, the National Hurricane Centre warned that "catastrophic" flooding and "life-threatening" storm surges were expected to spread inland.

"Just because the storm is gone, it doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet", he said.

Hurricane Florence has weakened somewhat early Thursday as its outer bands approach the North Carolina coast, but weather officials cautioned that the storm will still bring life-threatening conditions.

Neighbour Adam Sparks said he noticed emergency responders arrive at the house across the street right around when his power went out and the storm was intensifying.

The body of the 78-year-old man was discovered by family members on Friday morning.

North Carolina Emergency Management warned residents on Friday to stay indoors, avoid stagnant or moving flood waters and have their emergency kits ready.

Emergency officials warned residents that the peril had probably not passed, as the storm continued to dump torrential rain.

Florence was one of two major storms on Friday. It is expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

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