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Florence Death Toll Rises As Flooding Continues to Threaten the Carolinas

Despite being downgraded from a Category 1 Hurricane to a Tropical Storm on Friday, Florence continues to churn as a dangerous storm whose unyielding rains are expected to cause massive flooding throughout the Carolinas.

As the storm-related death toll rose to at least six by Saturday morning, officials believe the “worst damage was yet to come,” The New York Times reported.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham called the dumping of more than 30 inches of rain already in some areas “absolutely staggering,” adding that, “we’re not done yet.”

By Friday morning, about 800,000 residents in North Carolina had lost power. About 200,000 more had lost power in South Carolina.

According to The Charlotte Observer, five people died on Friday in North Carolina, including a mother and her baby who were killed when a tree fell on their Wilmington home. The father was rescued and taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.

A 78-year-old man was killed in Kinston while trying to connect two extension cords in the rain. A 77-year-old man was killed in the same city after being knocked down by high winds. Another woman died of a heart attack in Pender County, and a sixth death was reported at West Brunswick High School in Shallotte, NC.

Others reports have described people suffering serious, life-threatening injuries.

Rescue efforts in New Bern, North Carolina, on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

In New Bern, a city of 30,000, at least 500 people have been rescued so far from relentless flooding.

On Saturday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the “flood danger from the storm is more immediate today than when it made landfall 24 hours ago.”

He added: “We face walls of water. More [people] now face a threat than when the storm was offshore. Flood waters are rising, and if you aren’t watching for them, you are risking life.”

Additional mandatory evacuation orders were issued as local rivers were expected to crest at up to 17 feet above flood stages in some areas, including Harnett County.

According to CNN, “Florence’s center was 40 miles west of Myrtle Beach [at 11 a.m. on Saturday], with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. It was moving west at 2 mph.”

Florence is expected to travel through upstate South Carolina, where it likely will be downgraded to a Tropical Depression before turning to the Ohio Valley. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland have all declared states of emergency, CNN reported.

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