By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) – Tropical Depression Florence continues to batter the Carolinas Sunday with heavy rain and flooding.
The storm is now making its way westward at 8 miles per hour (13 kph), setting its sights on Charlotte, North Carolina with sustained winds of 38 miles per hour (61 kph).
The death toll has risen to at least 14, including a mother and infant that were killed in their home by a fallen tree, two men that were electrocuted, and a woman that suffered a heart attack.
Massive flooding has heavily affected North and South Carolina and while the storm was downgraded to a tropical depression, forecasters are still warning of flash floods throughout the region.
"The worst flooding is yet to come for portions of the Carolinas, the southern/central Appalachians from western NC to west-central VA and far eastern WV," said the National Weather Service on Twitter.
Florence has broken the record for rainfall in the state of North Carolina, bringing in over 30 inches of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Numerous locations have reported having over 20 inches of rainfall so far, with more expected over the next few days.
Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at weathermodels.com, predicted that Florence will drop a total of 18 trillion gallons of water over the Mid-Atlantic coast, according to the Associated Press. That is roughly equivalent to the amount of water in Chesapeake Bay.
U.S. President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for North Carolina, freeing up federal resources to boost recovery efforts, the White House confirmed Saturday. He made the declaration on Friday.
As the storm conditions have weakened in the areas of northeastern North Carolina, the National Guard has been able to operate faster and more efficiently.
"We continue to assess conditions in the central and southeast portion of the state to identify opportunities to safely increase operations in those areas as well," Capt. Bion Stewart, leader of the Coast Guard's response to Hurricane Florence in North Carolina, said in a statement.
The guard has mobilized over 100 members and 35 shallow-water rescue boat teams to run rescue missions for people trapped by the storm. They have reported rescuing five individuals so far.