Florence brings heavy rains, dangerous flooding even as it weakens

At least 17 reported dead from storm

Florence brings heavy rains, dangerous flooding even as it weakens
A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, after heavy wind and rain from Florence, now a tropical storm, blew through New Bern, N.C. (Source: Steve Helber)

(RNN) - While Florence has weakened to a tropical depression, its rains will continue to bring flood conditions to the Carolinas and neighboring states for the next several days.

The death toll from Florence stands at a minimum of 17 fatalities, according to the Associated Press.

A mother and infant were killed in Wilmington, NC, when a tree fell on their house, WECT reported.

A third person, a woman, died in Hampstead, NC, in Pender County.

Three more people died in Duplin County, NC, due to flash flooding, according to a post on the sheriff department’s Facebook page.

Two more people were killed in Lenoir County, NC. Gov. Roy Cooper confirmed the death of a 78-year-old man who was electrocuted while he was trying to connect two extension cords in the rain, CNN reported.

The other victim, another 78-year-old man, was found dead at his home. It’s believed he died after he was blown down while going outside to check on his dogs.

A 61-year-old woman and a 63-year-old man died in Horry County, SC, after using a generator inside their home, according to WMBF.

Two people staying at the shelter at Goose Creek High School in Berkeley County, SC, were pronounced dead after being transported to the hospital early Saturday, according to WCSC. One of them, a man, died from natural causes. The cause of death for the second person is unknown.

One person died at the West Brunswick High School shelter Thursday morning, according to a spokesperson for Brunswick County, NC. An investigation is underway, but officials said it appears there’s no reason for others at the shelter to worry.

One man, drowned when a pickup truck flipped into a drainage ditch. According to Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson, 23-year-old Michael Dalton Prince was a passenger in the truck, which lost control on a flooded two-lane road early Sunday.

Another victim hasn’t been identified, according to Kershaw County Coroner David West.

A 3-month-old in Dallas, NC, was killed when a tree fell on a mobile home, WBTV reports.

However, officials fear the worst from Florence is yet to come.

Florence continues to move slowly, causing catastrophic flooding across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the National Weather Service.

According to the Associated Press, the city of Wilmington, NC, has been completely cut off by floodwaters and officials are asking for additional help from state law enforcement and the National Guard.

The eye of the storm as of 11 p.m. ET Sunday was located 35 miles east-northeast of Asheville, NC, and had sustained winds of 30 miles per hour, according to the NWS. It was moving north at 10 miles per hour.

The storm is expected to move northeastward Monday and across the southern part of New England on Tuesday.

There are no coastal watches and warnings in effect, although flash flood warnings are in effect across a large portion of southern and western North Carolina and parts of northeast South Carolina and southwest Virginia.

There are flash flood watches in effect across much of North Carolina, northern South Carolina and for portions of western Virginia and southern and eastern West Virginia.

More than 500 people were rescued from high waters around New Bern and Jacksonville, NC, according to the Associated Press.

A senior assisted living facility in Cumberland County, NC, was evacuated Saturday, due to flooding concerns around the Cape Fear River, according to WTVD.

North Carolina issued warnings to drivers traveling down Interstate 95 from Virginia to bypass the state, instead going west to Tennessee, CNN reported. A 73-mile stretch of the highway closed Saturday because of flooding and an accident involving a tractor-trailer.

Officials say the biggest worry in coming days is the flooding of inland rivers.

Between 15 and 30 inches of rain have fallen in many locations in eastern North Carolina, according to the Weather Channel, and between 5 and 10 inches have fallen in northern South Carolina.

A total of 40 inches of rain is expected to fall in southern North Carolina, and a total of 20 inches of rain is expected in northern South Carolina and western North Carolina, according to the NWS. Southwest Virginia could see up to 15 inches, and the rest of the mid-Atlantic and New England states face 10 inches of rain.

Heavy rainfall is expected to increase the risk for landslides in southwest Virginia.

President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for North Carolina, the White House said Saturday. It will make federal money available to people in the counties of Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico and Pender.

Nearly 800,000 people are without power, most of them in North Carolina, according to the Associated Press.

Five people were arrested Saturday in Wilmington, NC, after a looting incident at a Family Dollar store, WECT reported.

Authorities evacuate a family from rising waters caused by Florence, now a tropical storm, on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 in New Bern, N.C. (Source: AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)
Authorities evacuate a family from rising waters caused by Florence, now a tropical storm, on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018 in New Bern, N.C. (Source: AP Photo/Allen G. Breed) (Source: Allen G. Breed)

The eye of Florence directly struck Wrightsville Beach, NC, early Friday. It officially hit the East Coast around 7:40 a.m. ET as a Category 1 hurricane. It was downgraded to a tropical storm later Friday.

More than 20,000 people in North Carolina spent Friday night in emergency shelters.

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