US: Florence death toll rises to 5 amid massive deluge

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – At least five people have died as Tropical Storm Florence slowly crept westward over the Carolinas Saturday, dumping massive amounts of water on the region.

The storm is moving at just 3 miles per hour (5 kph), according to the National Hurricane Center.

Rescuers are working hastily to save those caught in rising flood waters as thousands of people living near North Carolina's rising rivers were ordered to evacuate Saturday.

A mother and a baby were the storm's first victims, who were killed Friday when a tree collapsed on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina. The father was transported to a nearby hospital to receive treatment for injuries he sustained.

Two other men were killed in Lenoir County, North Carolina — electrocuted in separate incidents, according to CNN. A woman in Hampstead, North Carolina died of a heart attack after first responders were unable to reach her fast enough due to downed trees.

The Coast Guard is working to rescue people trapped in the northeast part of North Carolina, and reported rescuing five individuals so far.

"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.

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 Friday.

Trump previously declared states of emergency in North and South Carolina, and Virginia.

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