At least four deaths have been linked to Hurricane Florence just hours after the massive storm made landfall in North Carolina.
WTVD and the Associated Press report the victims include a mother and her infant whose house was damaged by a falling tree. According to the Washington Post, the father of the infant was also home at the time of the incident and taken to the hospital. NBC News captured footage of the rescue operation.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) September 14, 2018
Another victim suffered a medical incident and couldn’t be reached in time due to damage from the storm. Pender County spokesperson Tammy Proctor told BuzzFeed News that “emergency personnel tried to clear the roadway of trees and debris to reach her, but during the operation a tree fell through the emergency vehicle” and operations had to be suspended.
A fourth North Carolina resident was killed while plugging in a generator, per authorities.
Govs. Roy Cooper (D-NC) and Henry McMaster (R-SC) warned residents that the storm was only going to get worse, as Hurricane Florence is expected to slow down and dump massive amounts of rain on North and South Carolina. “This storm is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days,” said Cooper.
“This is something that we have not seen before,” noted McMaster. “This much rain, a hurricane staying staying on top of us for this long… we’re going to have to have patience, we’re going to have to be careful for a long time, and then we’re going to have to deal with a lot of water after the winds leave.”
Scientists emphasize that climate change is making storms like Florence more intense. Passing over warmer waters — as Florence did — makes hurricanes stronger and wetter. Meanwhile, higher sea levels drive larger storm surge when the storms hit. Climate change also means storms are moving more slowly.
Nearly 750,000 residents of North and South Carolina were without power as of Friday afternoon, per local utilities. Reuters reported that “Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million and 3 million outages. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said.”
The White House announced on Friday that President Donald Trump is expected to visit areas impacted by the storm next week.