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Hurricane Florence live updates: Death toll reaches eight in Carolinas as danger from flash flooding soars

Officials say the most dangerous part of the storm could be yet to come

Clark Mindock
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
,Tom Embury-Dennis,Emily Shugerman,Mythili Sampathkumar,Andrew Buncombe
Saturday 15 September 2018 21:17
Hurricane Florence flood on North Carolina coast in US

Eight people, including a mother and her infant child, have died in the Carolinas from the deadly effects of Hurricane Florence.

The powerful storm flattened trees, buckled buildings and knocked out power to nearly 930,000 homes and businesses as it battered the southeast coast of the US.

It made landfall on Friday with a life-threatening storm surge pushing water inland for miles and more than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel.

Nearly 400 people had to be rescued from their flooded homes in New Bern, North Carolina, after they decided to try and see out the wind and rain.

Governor Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds its way across land.

"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending," he said.

Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm with winds of 60 mph (95 kph) as it slowly moved west.

The first known deaths related to the storm were a mother and her infant child who were killed when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina.

In Lenoir County a 78-year-old man was electrocuted and a 77-year-old man was found dead after he went outside to check on his dogs.

A woman also died of a suspected heart attack in Pender county. Although it was not directly related to Florence, emergency services were blocked from attending by storm damage. On Saturday, a further three deaths were confirmed. According to Duplin County Sherriff Blake Wallace, two of the deaths happened outside of Kenansville, while the third happened in Kornegay.

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Experts had warned the effects of the hurricane could be devastating.

“This is a horrific nightmare storm from a meteorological perspective,” University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd said. “We’ve just never seen anything like this. This is just a strange bird.”

The Duke Energy company estimated that between 1 million and 3 million homes could be without power in the wake of the hurricane.

Donald Trump issued a stark warning on Twitter on Wednesday, telling Americans to evacuate and not to “play games with” Florence. “It’s a big one, maybe as big as they’ve seen, and tremendous amounts of water,” he added in a video posted to Twitter.

He claimed federal authorities were “fully prepared” for the hurricane, saying: “The storm will come, it will go, we want everybody to be safe. We’re fully prepared, food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready.

“But despite that, bad things can happen when you’re talking about a storm this size. It’s called Mother Nature, you never know. But we know, we love you all, we want you safe, get out of the storm’s way, listen to your local representatives.”

It came just days after an official report criticised the US government’s handling of the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the US territory where some 3,000 people were killed last autumn.

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A reminder as emergency response efforts get underway that the Trump administration transferred nearly $10m from the Federal Emergency Response Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement this year. Similar cuts were also made to nine other agencies, in order to fund increases in immigrant detention.

Kristin Hugo14 September 2018 07:00
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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent's live coverage as Hurricane Florence threatens to deluge the Carolinas with record amounts of rainfall, threatening millions of people in its path. 

We will bring you all the latest as it develops. 

Adam Withnall14 September 2018 07:20
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The National Hurricane Center says that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected over portions of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence inches closer to the US east coast. 

The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 mph by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Governor Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster. 

As of 2am, Florence was centered about 35 miles east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 mph.

Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles. 

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. 

Adam Withnall14 September 2018 07:43
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An update from a meteorologist in South Carolina. Reports of 100 mph winds and 30 ft offshore waves, James Hopkins says. 

Adam Withnall14 September 2018 07:56
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In North Carolina, the storm has triggered a house fire after winds blew apart a transformer.

Adam Withnall14 September 2018 08:00
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None of Donald Trump's last three tweets have been about Hurricane Florence. Instead the US president has focused on his own conspiracy theory that the Puerto Rico death toll from Hurricane Maria was made up, John Kerry meeting Iranian officials, and helping to sell one of his supporter's books. 

Adam Withnall14 September 2018 08:12
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News 13 WNC has posted astonishing footage of a petrol station's roof being torn off by Hurricane Florence.

Adam Withnall14 September 2018 08:24
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Here's a report on all the Hurricane Florence latest from the Associated Press:

Hurricane Florence has already inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and forecasters say that "catastrophic" freshwater flooding is expected over portions of the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence inches closer to the US East Coast. 

Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge whipped the Carolina coast Thursday to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas. 

The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to around 90 mph by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had governor Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

"The worst of the storm is not yet here but these are early warnings of the days to come," he said. "Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience." 

Cooper requested additional federal disaster assistance in anticipation of what his office called "historic major damage" across the state. 

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire. 

Prisoners were affected, too. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities. 

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions. 

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers. 

Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

Adam Withnall14 September 2018 08:28
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If you missed it on Thursday, the Weather Channel has provided an astonishing - and terrifying - glimpse at the dangers facing anyone in the path of the storm surge. 

Adam Withnall14 September 2018 08:42
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Life-threatening storm surge is being reported along the coast of the Carolinas. 

The National Hurricane Center said early on Friday that a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently reported 6.3ft of inundation.

As of 3am, Florence hadn't moved and was still centred about 35 miles east of Wilmington, North Carolina. 

Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles. 

Forecasters say the combination of a life-threatening storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. 

Adam Withnall14 September 2018 08:53

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