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Hurricane Florence claims 13

The death toll attributed to Florence stands at 13, including 10 in North Carolina and three in South Carolina. Authorities say some other fatalities were unrelated.
A husband and wife died in a Fayetteville, North Carolina house fire on Friday, the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says.
A mother and her 8-month-old child were killed when a massive tree crushed their brick house Friday, according to a tweet from Wilmington, North Carolina police.
An 81-year-old man died while trying to evacuate Wayne County, North Carolina, on Friday, the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says.
A 78-year-old man was electrocuted in the rain while trying to connect extension cords for a generator, Lenoir County, North Carolina spokesman Bryan Hanks says.
A 77-year old man died after he went outside to check on his hunting dogs and was blown down, Hanks says.
Three people died in Duplin County, North Carolina because of “flash flooding and swift water on roadways,” the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page.
A 61-year-old woman was killed late Friday when the vehicle she was driving struck a tree near the town of Union, South Carolina, Capt. Kelley Hughes of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said.
Authorities say the storm did not cause some other deaths that occurred during Florence in North Carolina: a woman who died of undetermined causes in a shelter, a woman who suffered a heart attack at home during the storm, and a couple whose apparent murder-suicide was investigated during hurricane conditions in Otway.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded Florence to a tropical storm late Friday afternoon as winds fell to 70 mph.
Forecasters warned that drenching rains of anywhere from 1 to 3 feet as the storm crawls westward across North and South Carolina could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.
As 400-mile-wide Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach scores of people besieged by rising waters along a river. More than 60 others had to be rescued as a cinderblock motel collapsed.
Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 700,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn’t anywhere near an end.
“It’s an uninvited brute who doesn’t want to leave,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
The hurricane was “wreaking havoc” and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its “violent grind across our state for days,” the governor said. He said parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges – the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane – as high as 10 feet.
A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from Wilmington police. The deaths also included that of a person killed while plugging in a generator, the governor’s office said.
Shaken after seeing waves crashing in the Neuse River just outside his house in the town of New Bern, hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.
“I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth,” said Ballance, owner of a seafood restaurant that was flooded.
By early afternoon, Florence’s winds had weakened to 75 mph, just barely a hurricane and well below the storm’s terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph earlier in the week. But the hurricane had slowed to a crawl, drenching coastal communities for hours on end.
The town of Oriental, North Carolina, had gotten more than 18 inches of rain just a few hours into the deluge, while Surf City had 14 inches and it was still coming down.

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