Florence downgraded to tropical storm, 5 dead

Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and South Carolina with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding. Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph, and it’s at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 mph.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center. Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

Famed Myrtle Beach resort weathers storm

South Carolina’s most popular tourist destination is riding out Florence without major problems so far.

In North Myrtle Beach, rain has been falling nearly all day and tree branches and limbs are on some roads. The power is out on the main strip, but almost no vehicles are on the six-lane highway through the center of town other than police.

North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling says three-quarters of the area’s 37,000 electric customers are without power.

To the south, Myrtle Beach was faring better. Power outages were spotty, and Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea says no significant property damage has been reported.

No areas in South Carolina reported problems with surge from the ocean as winds continued from the land pushing water away.

5 deaths reported in North Carolina

At least five people were killed during the storm, authorities said. A mother and an infant were killed when a tree fell onto their home in Wilmington on Friday. The father was injured and transported to a nearby hospital, The Wilmington Police Department said.

Images showed firefighters responding to the scene and kneeling to pray. The firefighters were shaken up by what they witnessed at the scene, CBS affiliate WWAY reports.

Two people were killed in Kinston as a result of the hurricane, Roger Dail of Lenoir County Emergency Services. A 78-year-old male was electrocuted at a residence Friday morning when he attempted to connect two extension cords outside in the rain, Dail said. His body was discovered by family members.

The body of a 77-year-old male was discovered by his family Friday morning at his residence. His death is believed to be caused by being blown down by the wind as he checked on his hunting dogs, Dail said.

Another death was reported in Pender County. Emergency crews were using a front-end loader to clear a path to reach to a woman having a heart attack at the height of the storm, Pender County spokesperson Tammy Proctor said. However, operations were stopped when a tree branch fell and shattered the windshield of their front-end loader. They were unable to reach her in time, Proctor said.

Authorities said one person was killed while plugging in a generator in Lenoir County.

“Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “Hurricane Florence is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days. Be extremely careful and stay alert.”

Author: CBS News