Gov. McMaster cautions SC residents as Hurricane Florence moves toward state

Gov. McMaster cautions SC residents as Hurricane Florence moves toward state

Gov. McMaster cautions SC residents as Hurricane Florence moves toward state

The figure included a woman and her baby killed when a tree fell on their house.

Officials in SC said Saturday that the first fatality was confirmed in that state.

As Hurricane Florence, now downgraded to a tropical storm, continued to chart a path of destruction across North and SC on Saturday, school gymnasiums morphed into makeshift shelters for thousands of people displaced from their homes in nearby flood-prone areas.

In North Carolina, the city of New Bern was particularly hard hit.

By Saturday morning the winds weakened to 50mph but the storm's slow speed means that communities in North Carolina are receiving a prolonged battering by torrential rain.

Cooper had a stark warning to any residents considering returning to their flooded home towns.

Officials said there had been at least seven storm-related fatalities in the state.

Wilmington was battered by high winds and rising flood water as a pier was smashed by a huge wave. This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall: "in some places, measured in feet, not inches".

And weather officials said more is coming, labeling as "extreme" the impacts from storm surge and flash flooding.

The NWS says southern and central portions of North Carolina into far northeast SC are expected to report an additional 10 to 15 inches of rainfall - with storm totals between 30 and 40 inches along the coastal areas south of Cape Hatteras. Gusts reached over 100 miles per hour - the highest recorded in North Carolina since 1958.

"This is one of the most devastating hurricanes we've ever had", Mayor Dana Outlaw told CNN.

"We have 4,200 damaged homes", he added, urging residents to not wade out into the streets because of the dangers posed by downed power lines.

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It has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, but is not going anywhere fast.

A mother and her eight-month-old baby were killed Friday when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from police in Wilmington, N.C. The father was transported to a hospital for treatment. Local media said she suffered a heart attack. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man perished when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.

Almost 814,000 homes in North Carolina and 170,000 in SC are without power.

The White House said President Donald Trump would visit hurricane-hit areas next week "once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts". It said it was located about 60 miles west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and forecasters predicted a slow westward march.

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.

Besides federal and state emergency crews, rescuers were being helped by volunteers from the "Cajun Navy" - civilians equipped with light boats, canoes and air mattresses - who also turned up in Houston during Hurricane Harvey to carry out water rescues.

Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the coastline for days.

In general, south eastern sections of North Carolina like Wilmington and Fayetteville are at risk of flooding.

SC has reported its first death from Florence.

In Wilmington, numerous trees that contributed to its historic beauty are now gone. The streets were mostly deserted, some blocked by fallen trees.

Doll said that people living in low-lying areas next to streams, creeks and rivers, especially in farther inland areas, need to pay attention and evacuate in case rivers start flooding.

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