Sci-tech

Florence death toll rises to 14

Florence death toll rises to 14

With the center of the storm still at sea early Friday, scores of residents had to be rescued from homes and the tops of cars in New Bern, North Carolina. Volunteer rescue groups such as the Cajun Navy and emergency workers are scrambling to save hundreds of people still trapped by rising floodwater.

Between downed trees and rising water levels, some major roads were impassable and more secondary roads were also cut off.

"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm", Cooper said in a statement.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that whole communities "could be wiped away".

Authorities in SC reported one death, saying a woman was killed when her vehicle struck a fallen tree.

- A man who was killed while checking on his dogs in Lenoir County, North Carolina. "I'm scared to death of flooding", she said, "and actually just losing my life". I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth.

Deadly storm Florence drenched North Carolina with more downpours on Sunday, cutting off the coastal city of Wilmington, damaging tens of thousands of homes and threatening worse flooding as rivers fill to the bursting point. It came ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.

Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which dropped way down from a terrifying 140 miles per hour - Category 4 - earlier in the week. But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind. Florence has wreaked havoc on airlines, with more than 2,400 flights canceled, though officials said that was relatively small potatoes for a hurricane; 2012's Hurricane Sandy wiped 20,000, while Harvey shut down 11,000 past year. Other communities got well over a foot.

More than 500,000 people had already lost power by 12 p.m. Friday, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety reported. As forecasters warned the hurricane could lead to potentially catastrophic flooding.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the floodwaters.

Florence was seen as a major test for FEMA, 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 months that followed.

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The National Hurricane Center said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 6.3 feet of inundation.

Florence set a record in the state for rain from a hurricane, surpassing the previous record of 24 inches (61 cm) set by Hurricane Floyd, which killed 56 people in 1999, said Bryce Link, a meteorologist with private forecasting service DTN Marine Weather. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated.

Storm surge could be as high as 11 feet in parts of North Carolina, prompting officials to closely watch the rise of rivers in the eastern part of the state. The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour, the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958, the weather service said. Almost 2 million Americans live within a mile of the most at-risk sites.

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.

The flooding could worsen as Florence crawls westward, dumping more than 30 inches (75 centimeters) of rain in some spots since Thursday afternoon.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted earlier Friday.

"You can't get over till we have power and we have sewer up and running", said the retired teacher and real estate agent, who rode out the hurricane in an inland hotel.

Munich Re's Rauch said about 30 to 50 percent of storm damage is usually insured in the United States but often less than 10 percent in developing countries, meaning nine-tenths of the people hit will end up shouldering a bigger economic burden. "Anyone trying to get in here - don't try, you will be turned away".

More than 20,000 people are meanwhile taking refuge in emergency shelters.

Across the state, dams were being carefully monitored, none more closely than the one near Hope Mills, close to Fayetteville.


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