Sep 14, 2018, 6:34 PM ET

At least 5 dead, including mom and infant, as Florence pounds Carolina coast

#

Hurricane Florence pummeled North Carolina, making landfall Friday morning with storm surges and wind gusts before contributing to at least five deaths.

Interested in Hurricane Florence?

Add Hurricane Florence as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Hurricane Florence news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

Authorities have confirmed those storm-related deaths, including a mother and her infant child who died after a tree fell on their home in New Hanover County, where the storm hit Friday morning with a 105 mph wind gust, the strongest wind in the city since 1958.

PHOTO: Rescue workers rush a man to an ambulance after a giant tree fell on a house in Wilmington, N.C. as Hurricane Florence came ashore, Sept. 14, 2018.Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA via Shutterstock
Rescue workers rush a man to an ambulance after a giant tree fell on a house in Wilmington, N.C. as Hurricane Florence came ashore, Sept. 14, 2018.

The baby was about 8 months old, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said in a press conference. The mother and infant were not extracted from the home alive, said Steve Mason, deputy chief for the Wilmington Fire Department.

The child's father was transported to a hospital with injuries, police said.

PHOTO: Firefighters arrive at a home where a large tree fell trapping people inside, after Hurricane Florence hit the area, Sept. 14, 2018 in Wilmington, N.C.Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Firefighters arrive at a home where a large tree fell trapping people inside, after Hurricane Florence hit the area, Sept. 14, 2018 in Wilmington, N.C.

PHOTO: A woman reacts upon learning a giant tree fell on her family members house when Hurricane Florence came ashore in Wilmington, N.C., Sept. 14, 2018.Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA via Shutterstock
A woman reacts upon learning a giant tree fell on her family members' house when Hurricane Florence came ashore in Wilmington, N.C., Sept. 14, 2018.

A third person died nearby in coastal Pender County, North Carolina, where an official called it a medical fatality but did not elaborate.

Another two people died in the city of Kinston, said Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted at his home while attempting to connect two extension cords outside in the rain, Dail said. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper had previously said that a person in Lenoir County was killed while plugging in a generator.

A 77-year-old in Lenoir County is believed to have died after he was blown away by heavy winds while attempting to check on his hunting dogs, Dail said. The man's family found his body Friday morning at his home, Dail said.

Flood conditions will worsen through the relentless rainfall over the next couple days, officials warned. The system was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon but remained a slow-moving destructive storm.

Cooper told ABC News' David Muir that residents should continue to shelter in place, even though Florence is no longer a hurricane, because roads are covered in debris and water, and rescues are still taking place in coastal areas.

"There's a great temptation to want to go back east and to view you property," he said. "Do not go, and stay in place."

Rain forecasts show an additional 10 to 20 inches possible on top of the 10 to 20 inches that have already fallen. North Carolina's Newport and Morehead City have seen about 19 inches of rain so far.

"The sun rose this morning on an extremely dangerous situation and it’s getting worse,” Cooper said, calling Florence a "thousand-year rain event.”

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous agreed, telling Muir, "I see a biblical proportion flood event that's going to occur. I see the beach communities' being inundated with water and destruction that will be pretty, pretty epic."

Here's the latest:

As the rough winds toppled trees and power lines Friday, power was knocked out to more than 800,000 customers in North and South Carolina. Officials are predicting that potentially 2.5 million customers could be without power as the storm continues on.

In Bayboro, North Carolina, one of the areas under evacuation, resident Kim Dunn stayed behind. She was trapped in her truck surrounded by rising water Friday as her boyfriend and his cousin were stranded on a paddle boat less than a mile away.

PHOTO: Volunteers from the Civilian Crisis Response Team help rescue three children from their flooded home, Sept. 14, 2018, in James City, N.C.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Volunteers from the Civilian Crisis Response Team help rescue three children from their flooded home, Sept. 14, 2018, in James City, N.C.

The water was as high as street signs, and "we have no way to get to them," Dunn told ABC News Friday morning.

PHOTO:
SLIDESHOW: PHOTOS: Hurricane Florence batters the East Coast

"They've been out there for about six hours now just screaming for help," she said. "Only communication we have with them is just me flashing my lights to them and I think they have a flashlight they're flickering back to us."

Dunn, the mother of a 10-month-old, a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old, said she made a decision to stay behind while others fled.

"We were trying to figure out if we had enough finances to get out and if we were to get out, were we going to be able to get back home. So we made a decision to stay," she said. "I don't know how long it's going to be before the water actually starts to come into the apartment."

In nearby New Bern, where water levels reached at least 10 feet overnight, 150 people requested a rescue. Volunteers are using private boats to pitch in and help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said.

The downtown area, at the confluence of two rivers, is mostly underwater.

PHOTO: Union Point Park is flooded with rising water from the Neuse and Trent Rivers in New Bern, N.C., Sept. 13, 2018.Gray Whitley/Sun Journal via AP
Union Point Park is flooded with rising water from the Neuse and Trent Rivers in New Bern, N.C., Sept. 13, 2018.

New Bern resident George Zaytoun chose not to evacuate and is trapped inside his home.

"It’s like a bomb has gone off," Zaytoun told "Good Morning America" Friday. "Everything around us is underwater."

Zaytoun now regrets his decision, he said.

"I think we kind of let our guards down," he said of his community’s response to the storm’s being downgraded to Category 2 from 4.

Florence "is twice the size of Hurricane Hugo," which tore through the Carolinas in 1989, New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told "GMA."

Gov. Cooper said Friday, “As soon as it is safe, first responders will make sure they go and rescue people who need to be saved from this storm.”

PHOTO: Michael Nelson floats in a boat made from a metal tub and fishing floats after the Neuse River went over its banks and flooded his street during Hurricane Florence Sept. 13, 2018 in New Bern, N.C.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Michael Nelson floats in a boat made from a metal tub and fishing floats after the Neuse River went over its banks and flooded his street during Hurricane Florence Sept. 13, 2018 in New Bern, N.C.

Some people were arrested for breaking into cars as Hurricane Florence approached North Carolina Thursday night, Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram told ABC Wilmington affiliate WWAY-TV.

"If you seek to prey upon the citizens of Brunswick County, we're going to do everything we can to lock you up," Ingram warned. "I made sure ahead of time that we had adequate space for anybody that wanted to try that."

The rainfall is forecast to reach up to 40 inches in some areas over the next several days.

Storm surge could be as high as 11 feet in parts of North Carolina, prompting officials to closely watch the rise of rivers in the eastern part of the state. River flooding may be worse than Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

"We are expecting several more days of rain and our focus now is getting people away from immediate danger and then we will shift to putting our communities back together,” Cooper said Friday.

“I know North Carolinians. We’re going to make it through this because we’re going to stick together and we’re going to work together.”

ABC News' Max Golembo, Sam Wnek, Josh Hoyos, Alex Faul, Dom Proto, Kelly McCarthy, Morgan Winsor, Nick Coulson and Kieran Mcgirl contributed to this report.

News - At least 5 dead, including mom and infant, as Florence pounds Carolina coast

RRelated Posts

CComments

  • Jrducky

    So sad that thieves are stealing from people who have already lost so much.
    There is a special place in hell for them.

  • Marly Duran

    This is sad & I feel bad for the folks going through it.

    But it doesn't seem right that people have to risk their own health & lives to rescue those who should have evacuated.

    Like the woman whose relatives were stuck in a boat for 6 hours "Yelling for help" while she was in her truck, also stuck.
    What the hell were they all doing?
    If you choose to stay- at least stay in somewhere so you can ride it out.

  • mm

    So I noticed Trump hasn't really said anything about being proactive, just retweets, and saying what a good job first responders are doing, nor is he out there touring the floods like past Presidents have done, I guess he must be golfing or laying in a tanning bed somewhere and stewing over Manafort, and mad that he was wrong about Puerto Rico. People in NC and surrounding areas need support especially from the President right now, but alas lame duck as usual.

  • Rug Ratz

    I remember mandatory evacuations for wild fires in San Diego ... have 2 old cats and 2 dogs ... people think you can just toss them in the car and head out ... even though they get along, I couldn't. Sent family up to Los Angeles and I stayed behind. Fire did not get "too close" (closest was 1.5 miles away) ... but hurricanes and huge storms can be devastating as well as tidal surges in low lying areas ... and I remember the news videos of hundreds of cars stuck trying to get out of houston and ran out of gas and some abandoned on the roadway ... you fill up your old car, sit in dead-stop traffic for 6 hours and your car runs out of fuel. I can see why some try to wait it out, even if that seems fool-hardy at the time.

  • BannedSimplyForPosting237

    This is why you evacuate when told to do so.

  • StormWizard

    "If you seek to prey upon the citizens of Brunswick County, we're going to do everything we can to lock you up," Ingram warned. "I made sure ahead of time that we had adequate space for anybody that wanted to try that."
    Sounds like someone who has seen too much stupid in his career!

  • chris charles

    red state vs blue state... sounds like teams. too bad ppl cannot just work together in crisis.

  • Prophet With Honor

    Bad as this is, check out the Typhoon hitting the Philippines and headed for China. Wow.

  • Siestasis42

    Mother and infant killed by falling tree, father critical. Mother and father made a choice, infant was at their mercy. What a shame they did not leave. Action and non actions have consequences. I feel bad about that small baby never having a chance to grow up.

  • Orange McCarthy Slush

    “They died from a tree, not the hurricane! 0 deaths A+” - Trump.

  • Priscilla Abercrombie

    That poor man who lost his wife and infant when the tree fell. If he survives, he will forever be haunted by the fact that they would still be alive if only they had heeded the mandatory evacuation notice. How sad

  • Oldnewbie

    The statement that "Emergency Personnel" will not go out in an emergency is absurd. That is their job! Why have them if they are not going to do it?? I first encountered this last year when a Hurricane swept through Florida and was completely taken aback by the Governors statement that people who did not evacuate (for whatever reason) were on their own! Yes someone could not get to a shelter due to medical reasons and so tough s**t till the storm is over. Nice. Guess that policy is going to become the norm.

  • Independent Cacodemon

    The North Carolina Coastal Resource Commission (CRC) published a study in 2010 that predicted a 39-inch shoreline rise in the next 100 years, putting approximately 2,000 miles of North Carolina’s coast underwater. The Republican-controlled legislature didn't like the study results, and enacted Bill 819. The law required state and local agencies to rely on historical linear models—rather than findings that sea-level rise is accelerating because of human activity that produces planet-warming emissions—and limited the scope of the commission's research to prevent long-term projections. As Stephen Colbert said afterward, "If your science gives you a result you don't like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved."

  • End of Life Ritual

    Off topic, but while we are watching a Cat 1 come ashore there's a Cat 5 slamming into SE Asia right now. It's a big hurricane season already, and just getting started.

  • Wolfy King

    Trump will spin it that nobody died in the Carolinas. But, if he fails to order the Marines, Army, and Navy stationed in both states to assist with their manpower, amphibious vehicles, choppers, and ships, then he should be impeached for incompetence.

  • BassPlyr73 Again

    Sorry to hear about the loss of life. Falling trees are my biggest fear during the hurricanes I've been through. My house is in no danger from storm surge, and little danger of flooding, but those trees...

  • Former Earthling

    If those deaths are black or brown Trump won't count them.