A mother and baby killed when a tree smashed into their house in North Carolina are among several deaths caused by Florence, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm.
A man electrocuted while plugging in a generator during a heavy rain and another knocked down by wind were among the other casualties reported from the monster storm.
The tree’s massive size required special equipment from rescuers also battling winds and pelting rain to extricate them. Wilmington Deputy Fire Chief Steve Mason said the victims died at the scene.
“The size of the tree is not something you could simply cut with a chainsaw and remove and then quickly extricate,” he said. “It required a tremendous amount of heavy lifting, airbags and saws.”
Neighbour Adam Sparks said he noticed emergency responders arrive at the house across the street right around when his power went out and the storm was intensifying. “It went from zero to 100 real quick,” he said. “Really all you could do is stay inside and hope for the best.”
At first he thought the firefighters were there to help restore electricity, but when he saw police and paramedics arrive he knew it was something much more tragic. He said he did not know the family well but that the couple had multiple young children.
“It was very sad, very tragic. … I couldn’t even imagine,” he said.