Killer hurricane weakens in US

Source:AFP Published: 2018/9/16 21:38:39

Authorities warn risk from flooding persists

A killer storm that left up to 13 people dead weakened to a tropical depression on Sunday, but US authorities  warned the devastation it caused - including catastrophic flooding - is far from over.

Most of the fatalities from Florence, which made landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane, have occurred in North Carolina, where officials confirmed eight victims. They included three who died "due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways," the Duplin County Sheriff's Office said.

A woman and her baby were among the first casualties when a tree fell on their house, contributing to a death toll that US media said had reached 13 - 10 in North Carolina and three in South Carolina, according to CNN.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) downgraded Florence to a tropical depression on Sunday morning, adding that "flash flooding and major river flooding will continue over a significant portion of the Carolinas."

As of 5:00 am (09:00 GMT) on Sunday, maximum sustained winds had weakened to near 56 kilometers per hour, the NHC said.

On Saturday, some residents tried to return home, driving through flooded highways and armed with chainsaws to clear fallen pine trees that covered the road.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned against such behavior as roads became increasingly dangerous.

"All roads in the state right now are at risk of floods," he said. "As rivers keep rising and rain keeps falling, the flooding will spread. More and more inland counties are issuing mandatory evacuations to get people to safety quickly." He earlier said the storm system "is unloading epic amounts of rainfall: in some places, measured in feet, not inches."

Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said some areas have already received 0.61 meter of rain and could expect up to 0.5 meter more as the system moved "slowly, nearly stationary" over eastern North Carolina.

In New Bern, a riverfront city near the North Carolina coast that saw storm surges of up to 10 feet (3 meters), residents took stock of the damage after flood waters began receding and authorities rescued hundreds of stranded people.

Charles Rucker, a retired teacher, had only spent five nights in his newly-purchased house, built in 1830, when Florence struck.

Posted in: AMERICAS

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