Hurricane Florence leaves death and destruction in its wake

Mother and infant among those killed and over 800,000 people do not have access to electricity in the Carolinas in the United States
 

Hurricane Florence off the eastern coast of the United States (NOAA)
Hurricane Florence off the eastern coast of the United States (NOAA)

Hurricane Florence continues to assault North and South Carolina in the US, with five persons reported dead on Friday night due to powerful, gusting winds and extremely heavy rain.

A mother and her young child were killed when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina. A woman died a few miles north of that and two elderly men died in Lenoir County.

Meanwhile, many were experiencing a complete blackout as the storm damaged infrastructure, utility poles and transmission lines.

Florence acquired a Category 4 major hurricane status with estimated maximum sustained winds of 215km/h on 4 September. It originated from a strong tropical wave that emerged off the west coast of Africa on 30 August.

Firefighters work to remove a tree that fell on a house in Wilmington which killed a mother and her child
Firefighters work to remove a tree that fell on a house in Wilmington which killed a mother and her child

It has now been downgraded to a tropical storm but continues to wreak havoc as heavy rain is flooding several areas in the south-west and winds continue to pull infrastructure apart.

Climate scientist Michael Mann said that Florence is "a climatologically-amplified triple threat." He said that heat waves render the sea surface temperature in the Atlantic "bathtub-level warm" and as the ocean heat waves become more frequent, ocean waves are likewise increasing in frequency and intensity. "Warmer oceans mean more energy to intensify tropical storms and hurricanes," he said. He made reference to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Irene in 2011, Sandy in 2012, Harvey and Maria in 2017 and now Florence.

The US National Weather Service has released a flash flood warning as authorities were scrambling to reach nearly 150 people currently stranded. 

President Donald Trump praised the "incredible job" being done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency workers and first-responders.

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