‘It doesn’t look real’: Death toll rises, mass power outages after storm destruction

TRACKING ISAIAS: August 4 evening update

WINDSOR, N.C. — At least nine people were killed as Tropical Storm Isaias battered the U.S. East Coast with rain and fierce winds after making landfall as a hurricane in North Carolina.

Millions of people were without power on Wednesday after felled trees downed power lines.

Two people died when Isaias spun off a tornado that struck a North Carolina mobile home park. Another person died in Pennsylvania when their vehicle was overtaken by water and swept downstream. A 5-year-old girl had gone missing from her Philadelphia-area home during the height of the storm Tuesday and was found dead Wednesday. Authorities said they believed she was swept away by floodwaters in the creek behind her house.

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Three others were killed by falling trees toppled by the storm in Maryland, Connecticut and New York City, and another person died in Delaware when a tree branch fell on them, authorities said. A woman was found dead inside a New Hampshire house Tuesday evening.

Isaias sustained top winds of up to 65 mph more than 18 hours after coming ashore, but it was down to 40 mph max winds as of early Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Isaias: What you need to know

Aerial video from our partners at WTVD showed fields of debris where rescue workers in brightly colored shirts picked through splintered boards and other wreckage of the Windsor, North Carolina, mobile home park where two people were killed. Emergency responders searching the area Tuesday afternoon found no other casualties, and several people initially feared missing had all been accounted for, said Ron Wesson, chairman of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners. He said about 12 people were hospitalized.

“It doesn’t look real; it looks like something on TV. Nothing is there,” Bertie County Sheriff John Holley told reporters, saying 10 mobile homes had been destroyed. “All my officers are down there at this time. Pretty much the entire trailer park is gone.”

Power outages peaked in the state around 7 a.m. Tuesday with roughly 375,000 homes and businesses without power. The governor also said he had spoken with President Donald Trump, who pledged to help the state.

The storm set off flooding and sparked five home fires in Ocean Isle Beach, Mayor Debbie Smith told WECT-TV. The town’s firefighters were battling the blaze with help from Horry County firefighters in South Carolina, Tony Casey, a spokesperson for Horry County Fire Rescue, said.

The cause of the fires is unknown but the mayor said no one was inside the homes. Curfew in Ocean Isle Beach has been extended until further notice and the beach was closed Tuesday because of storm damage.

About 80 miles north of Ocean Isle Beach, about 30 people were displaced due to a fire at a condominium complex in Surf City, news outlets reported. It is not clear if the fires were connected to the storm. No injuries have been reported.

Cooper said 24 shelters were open across the state.

On North Carolina’s Oak Island, deputies had to rescue five adults and three children after the storm hit, causing damage along the beachfront and knocking electricity and sewer facilities offline, authorities said.

In eastern Pennsylvania, a 44-year-old Allentown woman was killed after encountering high waters on a street in Upper Saucon Township that swept her vehicle downstream Tuesday afternoon, the Lehigh County coroner’s office said.

While in New York City, a massive tree fell and crushed a van in the Briarwood section of Queens, killing Mario Siles, a 60-year-old construction contractor who was inside the vehicle, police said. A woman in Mechanicsville, Maryland, died when a tree crashed onto her car during stormy conditions, said Cpl. Julie Yingling of the St. Mary’s County sheriff’s office.

In Delaware, authorities said a woman was outside assessing storm damage when she was hit and killed by a falling tree branch.

Isaias toggled between hurricane and tropical storm strength as it churned toward the East Coast. Fueled by warm ocean waters, the storm got a late burst of strength as a rejuvenated hurricane with top sustained winds of 85 mph before coming ashore late Monday near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Its tropical storm status was sustained, but weakened, as it headed north into Canada on Tuesday night.

Before making landfall late Monday, Isaias killed two people in the Caribbean and battered the Bahamas before brushing past Florida.

Tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. Power outages also spread as trees fell, with more than 3.7 million customers losing electricity across multiple states as of 10:15 p.m. EDT Tuesday, according to PowerOutage.US, which tracks utility reports. New York City’s power utility said it saw more outages from Isaias than from any storm except Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Isaias aftermath: Update from Ocean Isle Beach

In Doylestown, Pennsylvania, officials said four children were treated for minor injuries after high winds partially tore the roof off a day care center. Also in the Philadelphia suburbs, rescue workers in Delaware County were searching for a young person who fell or jumped into the fast-moving water of a swollen creek, said Timothy Boyce, the county emergency services director.

In New York City, fierce wind and rain forced the Staten Island ferry and outdoor subway lines to shut down. The New Jersey Turnpike banned car-pulled trailers and motorcycles.

Some of the worst damage Tuesday seemed to be east and north of where the hurricane’s eye struck land in North Carolina.

“Fortunately, this storm was fast-moving and has already left our state,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday afternoon.

Some veterans of earlier storms were under the impression nevertheless that their areas would be spared.

Royce Potter, a fifth-generation seafood purveyor and owner of Potter’s Seafood in Southport, said he rode out the storm on a boat docked near his business, which was damaged by the wind and water.

“They got this wrong,” he said, visibly shaken. “I’ve ridden storms out here for years.”

As the storm neared the shore, a gauge on a pier in Myrtle Beach recorded its third-highest water level since it was set up in 1976. Only Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 pushed more saltwater inland.

The storm surge and wind damage actually matched what the hurricane center predicted, leaving dozens of boats piled up against the docks, and many decks facing out on the water were smashed. People were out Tuesday morning raking debris or picking it up with their hands and dropping it in trash cans.

In North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the storm sent waves crashing over the Sea Cabin Pier late Monday, causing a big section to collapse into the water as startled bystanders taking photos from the pier scrambled back to land.

“I’m shocked it’s still standing,” said Dean Burris, who watched from the balcony of a vacation rental.

Isaias aftermath: Update from Southport

Eileen and David Hubler were out early Tuesday cleaning up in North Myrtle Beach, where 4 feet of storm surge flooded cars, unhinged docks and etched a water line into the side of their home.

“When the water started coming, it did not stop,” Eileen Hubler said. They had moved most items of value to their second floor, but a mattress and washing machine were unexpected storm casualties.

“We keep thinking we’ve learned our lesson,” she said. “And each time there’s a hurricane, we learn a new lesson.”

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