Florence death toll at 17, including 3-month-old

The death toll in Hurricane Florence that struck last week rose to 14, as torrential rains and heavy flooding continued to batter North Carolina and SC states.

Florence's merciless deluge has already killed 18, trapped hundreds and made parts of North and SC impassable - and authorities say the worst flooding is yet to come.

More than 900 people were rescued from rising flood waters and 15,000 remained in shelters in the state, Cooper told a news conference on Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence had the potential to dump historic amounts of rain on North and SC, as much as a meter in some places.

The storm brought up to 40 inches of rain to some parts of southeastern North Carolina and northeastern SC, according to the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, throwing a lifeline to a city surrounded by floodwaters, emergency crews delivered food and water to Wilmington, N.C., on Monday as rescuers picked up more people stranded by Hurricane Florence and the storm's remnants took aim at the densely populated Northeast.

A 1-year-old boy ripped from his mother's arms by fierce floodwaters in North Carolina became one of Florence's latest victims Monday - as the devastating storm's death toll may now be as high as 20, officials and reports said.

-30-year-old Rhonda R Hartley died early on Sunday after driving a pickup truck into standing water near Gilbert, South Carolina, losing control and hitting a tree, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. Radar showed parts of the sprawling storm over six states, with North and SC in the bulls-eye.

President Donald Trump has signed a disaster declaration for North Carolina, which should speed up federal aid to the state, Stephens explained, as well as open avenues for individual assistance for local residents, businesses and nonprofits. Police were guarding the door of one store, AP said, which would only let 10 people in at a time.

Signs on a flooded highway leading out of town said "ROAD CLOSED", and many streets that weren't flooded were blocked by fallen timber.

Freelance journalist Marcus DiPaola tweeted that he helped rescue six dogs in Leland, North Carolina, after they were left locked in an outdoor cage.

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Mayor Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune told CNN traffic out of the SC city has more than quadrupled as residents and visitors evacuate. Wind damage is expected as well, with hurricane-force sustained winds and wind gusts topping 100 miles per hour in some places.

The storm should move up into West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and parts of New England by Tuesday, dropping 2 to 4 inches of rain there.

"Our roads are flooded", he said.

Water levels are still rising in rivers and streams, now beyond flood stage.

North Carolina congressman discusses the response to Florence.

Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate homes along rivers.

"We still have no water and power, so I'm happy to help if I can, there's nothing else to do", he said.

Officials said there had been at least seven storm-related fatalities in the state. "If the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water".

As rivers swelled, state regulators and environmental groups were monitoring the threat from huge hog and poultry farms located in low-lying, flood-prone areas.

Two men pulling a kayak pick up a gas canister as they walk across a road flooded by Hurricane Florence in Pollocksville, North Carolina, on September 16, 2018.

Trenton, North Carolina, is expecting the town to experience flooding with the Trent River breaking its banks at a record height over 29 feet; anything above 28 feet will flood the entire town and waters are raising. They are usually bolted to the ground, but the statues' thick pedestals were uprooted and washed away, the city said.

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