At least 3 dead as Florence crawls west


PICTURED ABOVE: Damages to stop lights in Wilmington Friday – Image courtesy of David Sentendrey, FOX 46


RALEIGH: Dangerous conditions from Hurricane Florence have already claimed three lives and Governor Roy Cooper is urging people to remain vigilant by seeking safe shelter and heeding warnings from emergency officials.

According to authorities, one person was killed in Lenoir County while plugging in a generator. Two people were killed in New Hanover County when a tree fell on a home.

“Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm,” Governor Cooper said. “Hurricane Florence is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days. Be extremely careful and stay alert.”

Torrential rains, punishing surge and fierce winds caused issues throughout the night and into the morning across much of the eastern and central parts of the state. Weather alerts including flash flood and tornado watches and warnings have been posted across the coast and inland.

Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach about 7:15 a.m. Friday as a Category 1 hurricane (74-95 mph). The storm was moving very slowly westward at about 6 mph. It was expected to continue to grind westward and slow down even further. Wind gusts of 105 mph – the highest recorded since 1958 — were reported in Wilmington Friday morning. Hurricane force winds were being felt in an 80-mile radius from the center of the storm. Tropical storm force winds were being felt 195 miles from the center of Florence.

2:54 p.m. Friday, Duke Energy, Dominion and electric cooperatives reported that 643,523 homes were without power in North Carolina.

At least 100 rescues have been made in hard-hit New Bern, and that figure is expected to climb. Officials in New Bern Friday morning reported storm surge as high as 10 feet. In New Bern, the dangerous conditions prompted officials in the coastal city to place the city under 24-hour curfew at 7 a.m. Friday.

Rain is forecast to continue through the weekend, bringing dangerous flooding conditions to many areas of North Carolina. Forecasters are predicting that the Lumber and Cape Fear rivers will crest significantly higher than after Hurricane Matthew, and in some areas Florence will bring 1,000-year rainfall totals.

Significant flooding was being reported Friday along the Neuse, Pamlico and Pungo rivers in coastal North Carolina due to storm surge. Those conditions were expected to worsen significantly.

“We are expecting several more days of rain,” Cooper said. “Our focus now is getting people away from immediate danger. And then it will shift to putting our communities back together.”

This press release appears as received from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety with the exception of  page/text/space/paragraph/general formatting details.  Picture placement also excluded.  All pictures included with original release may not be shown here. Separate reports contained within the same press release may have also been removed. Additionally, the different pieces of the press release may have been re-arranged.  This press release was posted at after being received from the agency listed. Article title and picture captions may, or may not be, part of the press release.  This information does, however, reflect the information received from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

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