NEWS
15/09/2018 15:21 BST | Updated 15/09/2018 21:31 BST

Storm Florence: Disaster Declared In North Carolina Amid Warnings It Will Last For Days

And there's more to come.

Donald Trump has declared a disaster in North Carolina where a tropical storm has killed six people with warnings the worst is far from over. 

Storm Florence has battered the eastern US coast with non-stop rain, surging seawater and howling winds knocking down trees, flooding rivers and dumping sheets of rain.

The US President’s declaration for eight North Carolina counties frees up federal funding including grants for property repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured losses.

Five of the deaths were in North Carolina, the sixth was in South Carolina. 

The White House said Trump will travel to the region next week. 

Videos posted to social media show storm surges flooding into homes as they race inland.

Authorities fear the death toll will go higher as the tropical storm crawls westwards across South Carolina.

Some towns have received more than two feet of rain from Florence, and forecasters warned that drenching rains totalling up to three-and-a-half feet of water could trigger epic flooding well inland through early next week.

North Carolina Gov Roy Cooper called Florence an “uninvited brute” that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds its way across land.

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters
A downed tree rests on a house during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of Wilson, North Carolina.

“The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending,” Gov Cooper said.

With tropical storm-force winds swirling 350 miles wide, Florence continued deluging the Carolinas on Saturday morning after pushing surging seas far ashore.

Rescue crews used boats to carry more than 360 people from rising water in the river town of New Bern, North Carolina, while many of their neighbours awaited help. Dozens more were pulled from a collapsed hotel.

NOAA NOAA / Reuters
Hurricane Florence is shown from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) #GOESEast satellite shortly after the storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, US, 14 September.

Florence flattened trees, damaged buildings and crumpled roads. The storm knocked out power to nearly 930,000 homes and businesses, and the number could keep rising.

A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from Wilmington police.

A 77-year-old man was apparently knocked down by the wind and died after going out to check on his hunting dogs, Lenoir County authorities said. The governor’s office said a man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension leads in the rain.

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters
Water from the Neuse river floods houses during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina.

Storm surges — the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane — were as high as 10 feet.

Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the South Carolina line.

Morehead City, North Carolina, had received 23 inches of rain by Friday night, and forecasters warned on Saturday morning that parts of the Carolinas could get up to 15 inches more.

Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.

Resident Jay Manning said he and his wife watched with alarm as water filled the street.

“We moved all the furniture up in case the water comes in but the water seems to be staying at the edge of the driveway,” he said, adding that if the wind picks up and the rain keeps coming, that could change. “My wife’s in a panic right now.”

Jonathan Drake / Reuters

 

Dan Eudy said he and his brother were awakened on Thursday night by the sound of a boat ramming against his front porch.

Eudy said his family stayed in their home partly to protect their house. “And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was,” he said. “This is a 500- or 1,000-year event.”