Death toll rises to 11 as Florence pours on the rain

Death toll rises to 11 as Florence pours on the rain

Death toll rises to 11 as Florence pours on the rain

Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm and further downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday evening.

Some towns have already had over 60 centimetres of rain and forecasters warn that totals could hit one metre.

In North Carolina, at least five deaths are related to the storm - but "several others are under investigation", Cooper said. "More than likely it's maybe a mindset of 'we've been through this before, '" he said.

As 400-mile-wide (645-kilometer-wide) Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach more than 360 people besieged by rising waters in New Bern, North Carolina, while many of their neighbors awaited help. Dozens more were pulled from a collapsed hotel. A second location in North Carolina has also broken the previous record.

On Saturday some residents tried to return to home, driving through flooded highways armed with chainsaws to clear fallen pine needle trees that covered the road.

More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved out of the storm's path.

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The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.

Travel is extremely hazardous because of storm surge, Trogdon said, and will only get worse.

As of 5 a.m. ET, top sustained winds had dropped to near 80 km/h with higher gusts, and Florence is expected to become a tropical depression later Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Mother Lesha Murphy-Johnson and her baby, Zac, were killed after being trapped inside their home in Wilmington when a tree fell onto the roof at around 9.30am on Friday. Rain draining from upriver, especially from hard-hit North Carolina, will come down rivers such as the Waccamaw, which isn't expected to crest in Conway for another three to five days.

Even as the winds abated, the waters rose. Newport, N.C., has already accumulated 23.7 inches. Because Florence is moving so slowly, he said, it will dump more rain than Mangkhut, which is named for the Thai word for the mangosteen fruit.

As much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain could fall on coastal areas in North and SC, the National Hurricane Center said.

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In an update published at 5:33 a.m. ET on Saturday, the agency said that the storm is now striking SC and has a path through the in-land charted for the next few days.

In Lumberton, North Carolina, volunteers are working to try to prevent a repeat of what happened with 2016's Hurricane Matthew, which left the city underwater for days. And about 46 miles farther up the waterfront, in New Bern, about 150 people were waiting to be rescued from floods on the Neuse River, WXII-TV reported.

Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

The president sparked furor on Twitter this week when he claimed that the official death toll from Hurricane Maria was inflated by Democrats to harm him politically.

"We moved all the furniture up in case the water comes in but the water seems to be staying at the edge of the driveway", he said, adding that if the wind picks up and the rain keeps coming, that could change.

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