Death toll rises to 13 as Hurricane Florence continues to wreak havoc

Hurricane Florence cuts off road access to N. Carolina city

The death toll rose to at least 17.

The dead included a mother and baby killed when a tree fell on a house in Wilmington, North Carolina. The father received injuries and were hospitalized for medical care.

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

With flood waters advancing rapidly in many communities, around 50 stranded people had been airlifted out by helicopter in North Carolina, said Petty Officer Michael Himes of the US Coast Guard. "More and more inland counties are issuing mandatory evacuations to get people to safety quickly".

Computer models mostly show the remnants of Florence tracking into western North Carolina on Sunday afternoon, before making a sharp turn to the north/northeast as the storm begins to get picked up by the jet stream over North America. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, said officials were focused on finding people and rescuing them.

On Sunday, Florence claimed a 14th victim, a man who drowned when a pickup truck flipped into a drainage ditch in SC, and a 15th, after a pickup truck veered off a road and struck an overpass support beam in SC. An investigation is underway, but officials said it appears there's no reason for others at the shelter to worry.

The eye of Florence directly struck Wrightsville Beach, NC, early Friday.

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

Part of downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, is inundated by water from the swollen Cape Fear River.

"The threat of flooding caused by the hurricane is now even higher than at the time of first impact of the disaster just a day ago". About 1 million homes and businesses were without power, canceled almost 1.5 thousand flights.

More than 800,000 customers in North Carolina were without power and 21,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state. A nuclear power plant in Brunswick, NC, shut down operations Friday.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence broke a North Carolina rainfall record that had stood for nearly 20 years: Preliminary reports showed Swansboro got over 30 inches and counting, obliterating the mark set in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd dropped just over 24 inches on the state. Some other parts of SC could see rainfall totals of up to 15 inches, forecasters said. "If the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water".

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The 5 a.m. ET National Hurricane Center update warned of additional heavy rainfall, tropical-storm-force winds and possible tornadoes in parts of North and SC, as Florence continues drifting west-southwestward over SC through Saturday. 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.

As it moves near OH and West Virginia, it will become a remnant low. As of Saturday morning more than 86,000 households were without electricity and most streetlights were not working.

There were more than 800,000 people without power in North and SC combined Saturday.

That should spell some relief for the inundated areas of Onslow County, but unfortunately puts the city of Wilmington, southeast coastal communities of North Carolina and northeast areas of SC in the line of fire instead.

West-central Virginia into far eastern West Virginia, north of Roanoke and west of Charlottesville, will see 3 to 6 inches of rainfall, with some isolated areas seeing 8 inches.

"All roads in the state right now are at risk of floods", he said.

"And we're not done yet", Graham said, adding that some hard-hit areas could get an additional 15 to 20 inches because the storm was moving so slowly.

A storm surge warning is in effect for Myrtle Beach, SC to Ocracoke Inlet, NC, and the Pamlico Sound, including the Pamlico and Neuse rivers.

The Associated Press reports the storm may unload 18 trillion gallons of rain on the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

President Donald Trump tweeted late Saturday that "five deaths have been recorded thus far", and expressed sympathy to the victims' families. Its winds were down to 45 miles per hour (75 kph).

The NHC upgraded Subtropical Storm Joyce to Tropical Storm Joyce in its 11 p.m. Thursday update. Its winds were down to 35 miles per hour (55 kph).

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