Firefighters mourn and pray for mother and child who could not be saved after a tree fell on their house during Hurricane Florence
Firefighters and rescue crews stopped to kneel and pray after they discovered the mother and her 8-month-old infant were killed by the fallen tree.
In a moment of peace during a harrowing day, heartbroken firefighters knelt and prayed outside a home in Wilmington, North Carolina, where a mother and her baby died after a tree crashed through their roof on Friday as Hurricane Florence made its landfall. A man, deemed to be the father, was rescued and taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for treatment after sustaining severe injuries inside the residence. Officials did not know his condition as of 3:30 p.m. Friday.
The mother and her child, along with the father were trapped for several hours as firefighters tried to rescue them.
According to Chief Jon Mason with the City of Wilmington Fire Department, the "intense rescue effort" included firefighters and FEMA volunteers. Due to the large size of the fallen tree, the rescue was made highly difficult, he said. In an attempt to free the family, firefighters used heavy lifting, airbags, as well as saws.
Although Florence was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm on Friday, lethal winds along with dangerous flooding were expected to continue into Saturday, claiming at least three other lives as of Friday night.
The Associated Press reported that over 60 people were pulled out of a collapsing motel in Wilmington at the peak of the storm Friday morning. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, more than 775,000 customers were left without power as of Friday night.
Robert Hartwig, a risk-management and insurance professor at the University of South Carolina, told The Wall Street Journal: "Residents of these states are materially less prepared than they were in the past to deal with the financial consequences associated with major flooding events."
Roy Cooper, the Governor of North Carolina, warned his people that the dreaded hurricane was "going to continue its violent grind across our state for days."
"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm," Cooper told local reporters. "Our focus now is getting people away from immediate danger. And then it will shift to putting our communities back together."
Having said that, the mother and her baby are among five storm-related deaths.