More than a million people were told to evacuate prior to Hurricane Florence. South Carolina’s governor, Henry McMaster, advised 8 counties along the 187 mile coastline to evacuate on Tuesday.
Hurricane Florence made landfall about 7:15 a.m. Friday near Wilmington, North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane with winds about 90 miles per hour. By 5 p.m., it had moved about 50 miles west-southwest of Wilmington and winds had dropped to about 70 miles per hour.
Still, the storm had already killed 5 people and trapped hundreds of others whose rescues continued into the night. Of those that died were a young mother and infant child, who were killed after a tree fell on their house. Rescuers worked for hours to try and save the two, but the huge tree could not be cut and removed in time. Another woman had died from a heart attack, but the weather and downed trees delayed the emergency crews from reaching her home.
Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina continued to urge residents not to return home yet. “The worst is yet to come”. Forecasts were predicting up to 40 inches of rainfall and massive flooding, even higher than what happened after Hurricane Matthew.
360 people were rescued from New Bern, a small town where the Trent and Reuse Rivers meet, but 140 people remained stranded. New Bern officials, including the mayor, had made rounds, especially to low lying areas, encouraging people to leave and offering rides to shelters. An estimated 70 percent heeded the evacuation warnings.
More than 600,000 people have lost power in North Carolina.