First deaths from Hurricane Florence include mother and baby, say Wilmington police

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The Wilmington Police Department is reporting what it believes to be the first two fatalities in Wilmington caused by Hurricane Florence.

A tree fell on a house on Mercer Avenue, killing a mother and her infant, said the department in a tweet. The father was transported to a local hospital with injuries.

Identities of the victims were not released.

A third person died in Pender County, according to Pender County Emergency Management Director Tom Collins. The woman was at her home in Hampstead. Collins told WWAY the woman had a heart attack Friday morning.

WECT reported downed trees kept emergency vehicles from getting to the woman before she died.

The deaths came as the storm was turning through the southeast part of the state, dumping more than 20 inches of rain in some communities. Gusts of winds in the 50 to 100 mph hour range were also reported, and the National Hurricane Center predicted trees would be knocked down.

How high are the winds? As of Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center is reporting sustained winds near 125 mph, with higher gusts. Hurricane-force winds (74 mph and higher) are extending 70 miles out from the center and tropical-storm-force winds (39 to 73 mph) are being felt 175 miles out. The wind gusts (combined with rain-soaked soil) are expected to bring trees down on power lines, cutting electricity to large areas, says the National Hurricane Center.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs