Update, Sunday, 4:20 p.m.: Florence may have been downgraded to a tropical depression overnight, but its winds, driving rain, and widespread flooding have continued to devastate the Carolinas.
By Sunday afternoon, officials said the death toll had climbed to 15.
The National Weather Service warned that flash flooding and major river flooding would continue over a “significant portion of the Carolinas.”
In southeastern North Carolina and far northeast South Carolina, the storm’s total rain accumulation was predicted to reach up to 40 inches. “These rainfall amounts will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding,” the weather service warned.
Up to 20 inches were expected in central and western North Carolina, far northern South Carolina, and far southwest Virginia. This increased the risk of both flash flooding and landslides in the area.
According to the Associated Press, Cape Fear, Little River, Lumber, Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers were all expected to burst their banks.
The Charlotte Observer reported that a rare flash flood emergency had been issued for south Charlotte.
NC Gov. Roy Cooper conducted an aerial survey of the damage with the Coast Guard:
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, tens of thousands of homes have been damaged, and up to 1 million evacuations have occurred across North Carolina. Over 15,000 people are in shelters in the state.
Update, Saturday, 9:24 p.m.: Officials from North Carolina and South Carolina reported earlier that 11 people have died from Florence, according to CNN.
Update, Saturday, 5:57 p.m.: The Associated Press reported that the death toll has increased to eight, as Tropical Storm Florence essentially has“parked itself” over land.
According to the news agency:
As of 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 60 miles (95 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, inching west at 2 mph (4 kph) — not even as fast as a person walking. Its winds were down to 45 mph (75 kph). With half of the storm still out over the Atlantic, Florence continued to collect warm ocean water and dump it on land.
Original post continues here:
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.
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.