Florence Death Toll Continues To Rise

At least seven people are confirmed dead as Tropical Storm Florence batters the Carolinas.

The storm pummeled the coast with torrential rains and high winds when it made landfall on Friday as a Category One hurricane and then stalled over the region Saturday. Although the storm came ashore in North Carolina, South Carolina also felt the impact of the 350-mile-wide storm.

“It’s like being stalked by a turtle,” said FEMA associate director Jeffrey Byard, according to Fox News. “There’s a lot of rain to come. There’s a lot of rain that’s fallen.”

The first fatalities were confirmed after a tree fell on a house, killing a woman and her 8-month-old baby. Officials said a 77-year-old man was knocked down by the wind after he went to check on his hunting dogs and later died. Another man was killed after trying to connect extension cords in the rain, WNCN reported.

Two fatalities were reported Saturday, though there is uncertainty over whether the deaths were directly related to the storm.

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How to help those impacted by #Florence: https://t.co/fXw9Lq7yEP pic.twitter.com/RL9eDrPC43

— ABC News (@ABC) September 15, 2018

New Bern, North Carolina, Mayor Dana Outlaw said officials rescued more than 100 people in the city on Friday alone, according to NPR. The city also reported more than 1,200 calls to its 911 emergency line.

“That’s very unusual … We did everything we could to make residents aware of how dangerous this storm was going to be,” Outlaw said.

Officials predicted flash floods and landslides as more rain falls and urged residents who fled their homes to be patient as they wait in emergency shelters.

“What we’re dealing here with is a major flooding and rain event … The flooding is far from over,” said Neil Jacobs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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“Our garage door didn’t make it”: North Carolina resident shows impact of Hurricane #Florence on his Belhaven home as he surveys flooded surroundings. https://t.co/qfU1tAYmpN pic.twitter.com/Wsb3nzNJFs

— ABC News (@ABC) September 15, 2018

Southeastern North Carolina, which was soaked Friday, is expected to get most of this weekend’s rain.

“The same places have seen all of this water, and the same places will see more water,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

Rainfall totals in some communities have already topped 20 inches.

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In a Saturday bulletin, the National Hurricane Center warned of “storm totals between 30 and 40 inches along the North Carolina coastal areas south of Cape Hatteras. This rainfall will continue to produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding.”

Gusts of winds in the 50 to 100 mph range were also reported, according to the Charlotte Observer.

“We have a lot of downed power lines,” Outlaw said. “We’re very concerned with these energized lines and folks could get hurt. So give the city time to get out and assess our infrastructure and get the roads safe for you to travel.”

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