Florence weakens to tropical storm, leaves at least five dead

Hurricane Florence Reduces Its Intensity But Not Its Destructive Power

Hurricane Florence Reduces Its Intensity But Not Its Destructive Power

The following content is sourced from external partners. The storm knocked out power to more than 890,000 homes and businesses, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the USA electrical grid.

The hurricane was "wreaking havoc" and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days", the governor said.

Florence has weakened to a tropical storm, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said on Friday, adding that still life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic freshwater flooding are expected over portions of North and SC. The father was transported to a hospital for treatment.

A fourth person was killed while plugging in a generator in Lenoir County, north of Wilmington, WITN-TV reported.

Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 68 trillion litres of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.

Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath.

More ominously, forecasters said the onslaught on the coast would last for hours and hours because Florence had come nearly to a dead halt at just 3 mph (6 kph) as of midday.

Forecasters warned that drenching rains of 30 centimetres to 1 metre as the hurricane-turned-tropical storm crawls westward across North and SC could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.

The storm surge, water pushed by a storm over land that would normally be dry, "overwhelmed" the town of New Bern at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said.

The NHC described Florence as a "slow mover" and said it had the potential to dump historic amounts of rainfall on North and SC, as much as 40 inches (one meter) in some places. Spending, meanwhile, fell more than 30 percent, or around $500 that week, and more than 65 percent on the day of landfall as businesses closed up shop and residents took shelter from the storm.

Maysie Baumgardner, 7, and her family sheltered at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as Florence filled the streets with floodwaters. "Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you".

Officials said several agencies responded to the incident. When all is said and done, Florence could pour 40 inches of rain along some parts of the North Carolina coast, according to CNN. Twenty inches (50 cm) were reported by early Friday afternoon in the town of Oriental.

On the mainland in New Bern, authorities said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater.

Hurricane Florence slowed dramatically as it approached shallower waters along the coast, dropping from a Category 4 hurricane with 130 miles per hour (209 km/h) winds on Wednesday (Sept. 12) to a Category 2 Thursday.

Bertha Bradley said she has never favored evacuating ahead of hurricanes. Downed trees blocked the road, making it impossible for paramedics to get to her.

"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.

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