President Donald Trump today declared a state of emergency in South Carolina in the face of devastation and heavy flooding caused by the storm Florence, which has claimed 18 lives since it hit the southeast coast of the country last Friday.
The emergency declaration, which was announced early on Monday by the White House, authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all relief efforts in cases of disaster and allocate federal funds to face the tragedy.
The economic assistance of the Administration, which will be made available to various governmental and civil institutions, will serve to implement "emergency protection measures" in South Carolina, which, together with North Carolina, are the states most affected by the scourge of the storm.
Although Florence has been weakened since last week began heading towards US soil as a Category 4 hurricane on Saffir-Simpson Wind scale to its current category 1 storm status, authorities warn that it still represents "an incredibly serious situation." In the last hours the authorities confirmed three new deaths, increasing the death toll to 18.
The last of the bodies recovered, according to police sources, is that of Kaiden Lee-Welch, a barely one year old baby who had been missing since Sunday, when the car in which he was traveling with his mother was dragged by the current.
The authorities detailed that, although the mother was able to get rid of the safety belt and do the same with the child, the force of the current prevented her from getting it out of the vehicle in time. The woman was taken to a hospital to be seen.
The Union County Sheriff's Office (North Carolina) corroborated that the search teams had recovered the baby's body: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the child's family and with all those law enforcement officers who helped in their search. It's a very sad situation," he regretted.
Beyond the fatalities, hundreds of thousands of people have had to be evacuated from their homes and some 500,000 users are without electricity in the affected region.
The latest data from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), released early Monday, show that the storm is moving at a speed of 13 miles per hour (about 21 km / h), which means an increase compared to the last hours.
The images of the affected localities that show the main news networks are horrendous, with streets converted into authentic channels. And the authorities say that the worst part is yet to come.
"There are numerous flood warnings currently in North Carolina and Southeast Virginia. We cannot stress this enough: flash floods can occur anywhere, not just in the vicinity of rivers and streams," said the National Weather Service (NWS) on Twitter.
The NWS also wanted to "highlight" that the danger is still present even in those areas where the storm has been left behind, since "although the rains have ceased (...), the riverbed continues to grow."
Trump plans to travel this week, once the danger passes, to the affected region to see first-hand the effects of the storm.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Kirstjen Nielsen, will visit North Carolina today to discuss with the local authorities ongoing rescue operations and reconstruction work.