- Hurricane Florence‘s center moved toward eastern South Carolina on Friday night, after making landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, hours earlier.
- The storm has been downgraded to a tropical storm, with sustained wind speeds of 70 mph.
- At least five people have died, including a mother and baby who were killed by a tree.
- More than 18 trillion gallons of rain are in the forecast, enough to fill Chesapeake Bay.
- Thousands of people are in shelters, and more than 810,000 customers are without power in the Carolinas.
Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but its strong wind and heavy rain are still battering the Carolinas. The center of the storm moved toward eastern South Carolina on Friday night, hours after making landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, hours earlier.
The storm has killed at least five people in North Carolina.
A mother and baby died when a tree crashed into their home, the Wilmington Police Department said on Twitter Friday afternoon. A 78-year-old man was killed while trying to connect two extension cords outside in the rain, ABC News reported citing Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail.
The storm was also implicated in the death of a woman who suffered a heart attack, since emergency crews couldn’t reach her due to a fallen tree, as The Wall Street Journal reported. And a man was blown away by strong winds while outside checking on his dogs. The man’s family found his body Friday morning, according to Dail.
Winds up to 70 mph are still lashing the coast, and a storm surge up to 12 feet high is expected in some areas, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm could drop up to 40 inches of rain in some spots, causing “catastrophic” floods and a “life-threatening” situation, the NHC said.
So far, floods as deep as 6.3 feet have been recorded.
The storm was giant when it made landfall: hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 80 miles, and tropical-storm-force winds extended nearly 200 miles from the storm’s center.
Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, said Florence has been “nearly stationary on the coast for several hours” on Friday.
The storm is moving at a walker’s pace, just 3 mph, and is expected to dump rain on the Carolinas for days. Homes have flooded and trees crashed through rooftops.
“Landfall of a hurricane is never the end of the event,” Weather Channel meteorologist and hurricane expert Rick Knabb said on Friday. “Slow-moving Florence is not even close to being done with the coast.”
Florence is forecast to dump about 18 trillion gallons of rain over North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Maryland before the storm is over. That’s enough water to fill the Chesapeake Bay or to cover the state of Texas in 4 inches.
In North Carolina, more than 680,000 homes are without power, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. The US Department of Energy estimates that number accounts for over 10% of the state’s customers.
More than 131,600 homes in South Carolina are disconnected, according to poweroutage.us, a website that collects outage data from across the country. The number of darkened homes is only expected to get worse over the weekend.
Footage from North Carolina shows massive flooding and high winds
These images, recorded by a camera maintained by the HurricaneTracker.com website in the riverfront town of New Bern, North Carolina, showed the dramatic progress of flooding on Thursday and Friday. The water consumed most of the Union Point river bank area by Thursday evening.
Other photos and videos shared on social media also showed dangerous conditions in North Carolina.
Although Florence’s wind speed means it is now a tropical storm, the NHC has consistently warned that the storm will not get less dangerous as the wind speed falls, since bigger threats come from the rain and floods.
On Friday, the storm toppled roofs and trees.
Branches crashed into this home in Wilmington, North Carolina while three people were inside. One man there was critically injured and taken away on a stretcher.
The wet and windy conditions were less of a problem for this pair of dolphins seen swimming nearby.
This timelapse shows how much rain fell in just a four-hour period in the coastal city of Oriental, North Carolina.
The most extreme conditions could be seen on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and on riverfront cities that were were hit hard by storm surge waters forced inland. A federal rain gauge in Emerald Isle, a town on a sandbank just north of Wilmington, recorded 6.6 feet of flood water.
Millions of people are affected
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper dispatched over 2,800 National Guard soldiers in the state.
“We know this massive storm will cause incredible damage” he said on Thursday. “Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience.”
On Friday morning, rescue workers loaded boats and trucks in the North Carolina river town of James City, near New Bern, and started evacuating people and their pets.
For those whose homes are being flooded, the National Weather Service says to move up to higher floors in your house and take your phone and supplies. Stay away from attics and crawl spaces where you could get trapped. If the water rises too high to stay inside, get to the roof.
Governors of five states declared states of emergency ahead of the storm: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland. Mandatory evacuation orders were in place in coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, affecting a total of about 1.7 million people, according to the Associated Press. The homes of more than 10 million people were under official watches or warnings for hurricane or tropical storm conditions.
In North Carolina, more than 12,000 people fleeing the storm are staying dry at 126 shelters located across the state.
Sinéad Baker, Alexandra Ma, Hilary Brueck, and Bryan Logan contributed reporting.
Read more of Business Insider’s hurricane coverage:
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.