Killer Storm Florence Weakens to a Tropical Depression – But Officials Warn the Devastation Is Far From Over With Epic Rains Expected to Lash Down on the Already Flooded Carolinas as Death Toll Hits 14

As the death toll from Florence rises to at least 14 and hundreds of people are being pulled from flooded homes, North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of a still-unfolding disaster: catastrophic, widespread river flooding.

After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 mph winds, Florence virtually parked itself much of the weekend atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore. Officials have now downgraded the storm to a tropical depression.

Storm surges, flash floods and winds scattered destruction widely throughout the east coast ,and the Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers are using helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles throughout the weekend to conduct rescues.

The death toll from the hurricane-turned-tropical depression climbed to 14 when a man drowned after a pickup truck flipped into a drainage ditch along a flooded road in South Carolina.

Earlier, authorities said two people died from carbon monoxide poisoning after using a generator in their South Carolina home during the storm.

A member of the US Coast Guard walks down Mill Creek Road checking houses after tropical depression Florence hit Newport North Carolina 

A member of the US Coast Guard walks down Mill Creek Road checking houses after tropical depression Florence hit Newport North Carolina 

Members of the Nebraska Task Force 1 urban search and rescue team help load an elderly resident onto a bus as they evacuate an assisted living facility to a church as a precaution against potential flooding Saturday 

A home is damaged after a large tree fell on it Sunday in Wilmington, North Carolina. So far, 14 deaths have been reported

A home is damaged after a large tree fell on it Sunday in Wilmington, North Carolina. So far, 14 deaths have been reported

A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage Saturday, September 15 after heavy wind and rain from Florence

A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage Saturday, September 15 after heavy wind and rain from Florence

The North Carolina fatalities also include three who died ‘due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways,’ the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said 63-year-old Mark Carter King and 61-year-old Debra Collins Rion were killed by breathing in carbon monoxide.

Their bodies were found in a Loris home Saturday afternoon, but they likely died the day before as the heavy rains and winds from former hurricane-turned-Tropical Depression Florence were moving onshore.

About 740,000 homes and businesses remained without power in the Carolinas, and utilities said some could be out for weeks.

Radar showed parts of the sprawling storm over six states, but North and South Carolina were in the bull’s-eye.

The head of Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, said officials were still focused on finding and rescuing people.

‘We’ll get through this. It’ll be ugly but we’ll get through it,’ he told Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet The Press.

Long said:  Well, unfortunately, the event is still unfolding for the next 48 hours.’

Florence weakened into to tropical depression Sunday morning but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas.

Rivers are swelling toward record levels, forecasters now warn, and thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate for fear that the next few days could bring the most destructive round of flooding in North Carolina history.

Stream gauges across the region showed water levels rising steadily, with forecasts calling for rivers to crest Sunday and Monday at or near record levels: The Little River, the Cape Fear, the Lumber, the Neuse, the Waccamaw and the Pee Dee were all projected to burst their banks, possibly flooding nearby communities.

Authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of up to 7,500 people living within a mile of a stretch of the Cape Fear River and the Little River, about 100 miles from the North Carolina coast. The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, population 200,000.

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Source: Daily Mail