The Slatest

Florence Weakens but Death Toll Rises Amid Warnings of “Catastrophic” Flooding

A pickup truck is seen submerged in floodwater in Lumberton, North Carolina, on September 15, 2018 in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
A pickup truck is seen submerged in floodwater in Lumberton, North Carolina, on September 15, 2018 in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
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Florence weakened to a tropical depression from a tropical storm Sunday but authorities are warning the danger is far from over as even more flooding is expected as it turns northward into Virginia. At least 14 people have been killed in storm-related incidents—11 in North Carolina and three in South Carolina, according to the News & Observer. The way people were killed “illustrate the scope of hazards facing people in Florence’s broad path,” notes the paper. One, for example, was electrocuted while a mother and a baby were killed by a tree falling on their home. Early Sunday morning, a couple in South Carolina died of carbon monoxide poisoning after using a generator inside their home, according to the Associated Press.

A toy house and other debris is strewn in the front lawn of a house, from flooding the day before when Hurricane Florence made landfal, in New Bern, North Carolina on September 15, 2018.
A toy house and other debris is strewn in the front lawn of a house, from flooding the day before when Hurricane Florence made landfal, in New Bern, North Carolina on September 15, 2018.
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/Getty Images

Even as some areas along the coast allowed residents to return to their homes, authorities warned that some who may feel they dodged a bullet could still face problems over the next few days as the rain continues. “This is still a catastrophic, life threatening storm,” said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Center’s Weather Prediction Center. Authorities are warning that there is now imminent danger from what could amount to the most destructive flooding in the history of North Carolina. Flash flooding is also expected in northern South Carolina and southwest Virginia.

Florence already dumped as much as 30 inches of rain in parts of the Caorlinas “with more to come,” said Taylor. Almost 800,000 customers have been left without power in the Carolinas since Florence crashed ashore Friday morning as a Category 1 hurricane. Authorities along Florence’s path are telling residents to prepare for the worst if they aren’t evacuating. “If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible,” Mitch Colvin, the mayor of Fayetteville, North Carolina, said at a news conference. “The worst is yet to come.”

Flood waters surround a home after Hurricane Florence passed through the area on September 15, 2018 in Warsaw, North Carolina.
Flood waters surround a home after Hurricane Florence passed through the area on September 15, 2018 in Warsaw, North Carolina.
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