Florence Death Toll Rises to 13 After South Carolina Couple Dies Using Generator in Home
The slow-moving storm continues to extend its path of destruction in the Carolinas
Although Florence continues to lose strength, its death toll is still on the rise.
Authorities in South Carolina revealed that a couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning inside their home, PEOPLE can confirm. The Horry County Sheriff’s Office identified the victims as Mark Carter King, 63, and Debra Collins Rion, 61.
Local news station WBTW reported that King and Rion used a generator in their home. While their bodies were found on Saturday afternoon, they died at approximately 7:45 p.m. on Friday, when Florence first made landfall, according to the outlet.
As of Sunday, the slow-moving storm — which began at sea as a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane on Friday, and has since been downgraded to a tropical depression — is centered around Columbia, South Carolina, and winds are down to a maximum of 35 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm, which is currently moving at 8 mph, is expected to make a turn towards the Northeast.
However, while Florence continues to weaken, authorities are still concerned about flooding — and the long rebuilding process that will be necessary for some communities.
“The flood danger from this storm is more immediate today than when it made landfall just over 24 hours ago,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, according to a press release issued on Saturday. “More people now face imminent threat than when the storm was offshore. I cannot overstate it: Flood waters are rising. If you aren’t watching for them, you are risking your life.
On Sunday, Mayor Dana Outlaw of New Bern, North Carolina — where massive flooding has forced 1,200 residents into shelters — said many of the area’s creeks are “increasing by the hour,” during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Addressing the long-term devastation, FEMA Administrator Brock Long remarked during an interview on Fox News Sunday, “This is going to be a long, frustrating recovery.”
The National Weather Service reported on Saturday that a record 30.58 inches of rain was recorded in Swansboro, North Carolina — making it the most rain from a tropical cyclone. The previous record was 24.06 inches, which was set in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd, according to CNN.
The National Hurricane Center predicts that by the end of the storm, over 40 inches of rain will have fallen in parts of the Carolinas.
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Florence’s first two casualties were reported on Friday in Wilmington, North Carolina, when a tree fell through the roof of a home with a family of three inside at about 9:30 a.m., killing a mother and her 8-month-old infant. According to officials with the Wilmington Police Department, who confirmed the death in a statement to PEOPLE, the father was taken to the hospital with injuries.
One woman in Hampstead, North Carolina, died of a heart attack when first responders weren’t able to reach her in time “because of all the downed trees in the roadway,” Pender County public information officer Tammy Proctor told PEOPLE in a statement. “They were using a front-end loader to clear the roads. During that, a tree went into the windshield of that equipment.”
Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram said in a video update on the Lenoir County Emergency Services Facebook page on Friday that two people had died, both when they were outside in the rain. One was a 78-year-old male who was electrocuted in the rain as he tried to plug in his generator via two extension cords. Another was a 77-year-old man who suffered a cardiac arrest after he slipped and fell while trying to take care of his dogs.
Meanwhile, Carteret County Director of Emergency Services Stephen Rea confirmed to PEOPLE that two people in Harkers Island, North Carolina had died on early Friday. Details of their deaths were not immediately available.
On Saturday afternoon, the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office went on to issue a statement on its Facebook page, sharing that “as of 1:30 p.m. on September 15, 2018, Duplin County has had 3 fatalities due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways.”
On Saturday night, President Donald Trump briefly honored the victims of the storm with an online statement.
“Deepest sympathies and warmth go out to the families and friends of the victims,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “May God be with them!”