5 killed as Florence pounds North Carolina

At least five people, including a mother and her infant, died in North Carolina as Tropical Storm Florence started pounding the Carolinas, officials said on Friday.

A woman and her child were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington. Her husband was admitted to a hospital with injuries.

In Hampstead, a woman died of heart attack after uprooted trees blocked the path of a medical team heading towards her home responding to an emergency call.

A man died in Lenoir County as he was trying to hook up a generator. Another man in the same county was killed in a wind-related incident as he checking on his dogs outside.

Earlier, Hurricane Florence was downgraded to tropical storm after it made landfall in North Carolina with the centre of the storm packing winds up to 90mph striking Wrightsville Beach.

The storm will linger for hours along  the Carolinas’ coasts and residents, who refused to move out and are on their own, face grave risk of flooding.

The immensity and slow pace of the storm indicate copious rains and large-scale flooding in the hours ahead which may lead to destruction and human suffering.

Already some 70,000 residents are without power and this number will cross millions. Coastal areas of the Carolinas are flooded with sea water and several streets have turned into streams.

Dozens of people are waiting to be rescued in the North Carolina city of New Bern. At least 200 people have been rescued but some 150 more are still marooned in areas where water levels have risen up to 13 ft. As water levels keep rising in homes, residents are moving to rooftops.

In New Bern, rising flood waters made employees of WCTI television flee their studio.

People living near rivers and low-lying areas are at risk of flooding. Those living in mountainous regions may face mudslides triggered by incessant rains.

Over the coming days, the Carolinas could receive as much as 11 trillion gallons of rain.

Three million people across the region may face power outage for weeks in some areas, the region’s main provider, Duke Energy said.

Ahead of Hurricane Florence, the authorities gave evacuation orders to 1.7 million coastal residents. More than 12,000 have taken refuge in emergency shelters.

Some residents stayed put as shelters were refusing to accommodate their pets. Others who had stocked enough food and water in their homes also declined to move out.

Authorities moved tens of thousands of hospital patients and prison inmates to safety. Zookeepers moved animals and birds to higher points and secured fences so that lions, tigers, bears and other dangerous animals do not escape during floods.

More than 1,500 commercial airline flights to and from the region have been cancelled until the storm crosses over.

What worries most people are the prospects of losing their homes after the storm.