Hurricane Florence claims first victims as tree kills mum and baby

Hurricane Florence from space

A man sits on a park bench in a flooded park as the Cape Fear River rises above its usual height in Wilmington.

"This storm will bring destruction", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.

About 756,000 homes and businesses were without power on Sunday in North and SC and surrounding states, down from a peak of almost 1 million.Five people were arrested for breaking into a Dollar General Store, said the police department in Wilmington, which has imposed a nighttime curfew.

"The father was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center with injuries". In Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.

In the town of New Bern, homes were completely surrounded by water, and rescuers had to use inflatable boats to reach people.

Early on Friday, the downtown area of the city of New Bern, on the Trent and Neuse rivers near the North Carolina coast, was underwater as emergency crews conducted several rescues, according to reports on social media. As Cooper said, "There's nowhere for the water to go". We were forced to have conversations with these people and say hey, do you by chance live in a two-story home?

Dan Eudy said he and his brother were awakened on Thursday night by the sound of a boat ramming his front porch.

"My boat stalled twice and I could definitely see the people in my boat were anxious", Futrell said to NBC News.

"The storm has never been more unsafe than it is right now", Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference.

Winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power.

Florence remains a Category 1 storm, and it's spinning hurricane-force winds up to 35 miles from its center.

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That includes on the roads, where high winds in the forecast could force more trees to fall down.

Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will become a tropical storm tomorrow (Sept. 15) over SC, continue northwest to eastern Kentucky, then swing northeast and track over most of New England early next week. CoBank ACB, an agricultural lender, estimates damage to North Carolina farming could hit $1 billion before the storm slows.

At 2 p.m. EDT (1500 GMT), the hurricane center said Florence had maximum sustained winds near 45 miles per hour (75 km per hour) and continued to produce catastrophic flooding in the Carolinas.

The area is expected to get about as much rain in three days as Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd dropped in two weeks in 1999. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did.

Leaves, branches and other debris surround and cover a sports vehicle after Hurricane Florence hit Wilmington. Trump, who plans to visit the region this week, tweeted his condolences to the families and friends of those who died.

At 11 a.m., Florence was centered about 20 miles southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 55 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The storm is tracked to move across the western Carolinas and then curve over the Ohio Valley on Monday and Tuesday.

The storm was expected to become a tropical depression on Saturday and significant weakening was expected over the weekend, the NHC said in a bulletin.

Federal officials are urging anyone who ignored orders to evacuate from Hurricane Florence to hunker down and stay put until the storm passes.

The hurricane came ashore early on Friday, pounding the state with torrential rain and high winds.

The streets were mostly deserted and some were blocked by fallen trees.

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