PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina early Friday, pushing a life-threatening storm surge of floodwater miles inland and ripping apart buildings with screaming wind and pelting rain.
As of Sunday, reports calculated the number of Florence-related deaths as 17. Those include:
- A mother and infant were killed when a tree fell on their house on Mercer Avenue. The father was injured and taken to the hospital, according to Wilmington police.
- Another woman died in Pender County after suffering a “medical condition.” First responders could not get to her in time because of downed trees blocking their route, officials said.
- A 78-year-old man died in Lenoir County while plugging a cord into a generator, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said.
- The 77-year-old man was killed when he was reportedly blown down by winds when he went outside to check on his hunting dogs, authorities said.
- An 81-year-old man died while trying to evacuate Wayne County, North Carolina, on Friday, the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says.
- Officials in Duplin County say three people have died in floodwaters.
- A husband and wife died in a Fayetteville house fire on Friday
- A 61-year-old woman was killed late Friday when the vehicle she was driving struck a tree near the town of Union, South Carolina, Capt. Kelley Hughes of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said.
- Authorities say a couple have died in South Carolina after using a generator inside their home during Florence. Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said 63-year-old Mark Carter King and 61-year-old Debra Collins Rion were killed by breathing in carbon monoxide.
- The 14th victim was a man who drowned when a pickup truck flipped into a drainage ditch in South Carolina.Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson says 23-year-old Michael Dalton Prince was a passenger in the truck, which lost control on a flooded two-lane road early Sunday.
- The South Carolina Highway Patrol says a pickup truck was traveling west on Interstate 20 in Kershaw County on Sunday morning when it went off the roadway. Troopers say the truck struck an overpass support beam, and the driver died at the scene.
A 3-month-old died after a tree fell on a mobile in Dallas, according to Gaston County manager Earl Mathers.
There were some deaths that occurred during Florence in North Carolina that were not caused by the storm, including a woman who died of undetermined causes in a shelter, a woman who suffered a heart attack at home during the storm and a couple whose apparent murder-suicide was investigated during hurricane conditions in Otway.
Additionally, more than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued. Pieces of buildings ripped apart by the storm flew through the air.
Most ominously, forecasters said the terrifying onslaught would last for hours and hours, because Florence was barely creeping along and still drawing energy from the ocean.
Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane a few miles east of Wilmington, as the center of its eye moved onshore near Wrightsville Beach, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The storm was downgraded to a Tropical Depression, but was still posing a widespread threat for catastrophic river flooding in parts of North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina on Sunday.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s advisory on Sunday at 11 p.m., there is a flash flood warning in effect across southern and western North Carolina, as well as portions of southwest Virginia.
Additional weakening is expected on Monday for the storm before re-intensifying as it transitions to an extratropical cyclone Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience.” Gov. Roy Cooper warned, describing day after day of disastrous weather to come.
Cooper also requested additional federal disaster assistance in anticipation of what his office called “historic major damage” across the state.
A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves nearly 30 feet high as Florence churned toward shore early Friday morning. Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.
Forecasters said Florence will move inland across southeastern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina Friday and Saturday, before turning north toward the Appalachian Mountains.
LOCAL, REGIONAL IMPACTS
It’s a tale of two regions for the viewing area.
The Hampton Roads region has largely been spared the worst of Florence, while the Outer Banks and inland portions of North Carolina were hit hard overnight.
Rain, storm surge and wind from Florence is forecast to be much more intense in the Outer Banks. Overwash on Thursday prompted transportation officials to close a portion of North Carolina Highway 12.
Storm surge will be a major problem for the Outer Banks and western Albemarle Sound. From Salvo to the border of North Carolina and Virginia, the surge could be 2-4 feet.
Florence’s storm surge wreaked havoc on areas in southeastern North Carolina. Officials in the City of New Bern reported Friday morning that around 200 people had been rescued from flood waters, and another 150 were awaiting rescue.
Flooding was a major problem to the north of New Bern in Belhaven, where the waters of the Pungo River had risen to the windows of some people’s homes.
The North Carolina Department of Emergency Management said around 3:30 p.m. that more than 640,000 were without power — largely in the New Hanover, Carteret, Onslow, Pender and Craven areas.
WAVY’s Jason Marks reports just under 100 people lost power in Dare County, a majority of which were on Hatteras Island. No major damage was reported in the early hours of Thursday.