As Florence Death Toll Climbs, Families Grapple with Loss of Infants

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The family knew which the item would likely be dangerous to stay in their home in Wilmington, N.C., as Hurricane Florence roared into the Carolinas. however family members, the youngest of which was a few months old, came to a grim realization: They did not possess the money to leave.

“Thursday night we were all sitting around laughing along with playing board games,” Chyna Doughty, 21, said. “Everything was just fine.”

however on Friday as the storm moved inland, “we heard a loud crash along with the entire house shook,” Ms. Doughty said. “My grandma, my sisters along with I all ran out of the bedrooms. We had no clue what the crash was.”

A tree had fallen onto the house, killing her mother along with her mother’s baby, Adam Johnson, who was 7 months old.

“We couldn’t see or hear my mother or the baby,” Ms. Doughty said. “Although they weren’t creating noise, we all tried to keep faith along with pray which they were still alive.”

At least three infants were among the 42 people who died inside high winds along with heavy rains as the hurricane moved into the region. One infant died in flooding; a second child was also killed by a falling tree.

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Kaiden Lee-Welch died inside floodwaters of Hurricane Florence.CreditUnion County Sheriff’s Office, via Associated Press

“the item’s tragic anytime you lose a young life because the item’s like, ‘What was in store for which person,’” a relative, Maria Davis, said. “Everything which lies ahead going forward.”

[Floodwaters of Hurricane Florence breach dam, sending toxic coal ash into river.]

In Union County, N.C., southeast of Charlotte, Kaiden Lee-Welch, 1, died late Sunday when he was swept away after his mother, Dazia Lee, drove around barricades along with onto a flooded road.

In Dallas, N.C., northwest of Charlotte, 3-month-old Kashton Kade Gill, died on Sunday when a tree fell onto the roof of the family’s mobile home. The tree separated Kashton’s father, Olen Gill, coming from his son along with his wife, Tammy.

Uninjured, Mr. Gill ran outside along with asked the neighbors to call 911, then ran to the living room window along with pulled out the air-conditioner. Kashton was crying along with covered in debris, along with Ms. Gill handed him to her husband through the window, just as the emergency medical workers arrived. however Kashton soon went into distress.

At the hospital, doctors performed C.P.R. for 30 minutes, Mr. Gill said, then asked the parents for permission to stop.

“We just couldn’t give which O.K.,” Mr. Gill said.

The doctors kept trying. About 15 minutes later, they returned along with said Kashton was gone.

Kashton Kade Gill, in a family photograph, died when a tree fell onto the family’s mobile home.

“Cherish your family, your loved ones,” Mr. Gill, 43, said. “Because you don’t know when tragedy might strike.”

In Wilmington, Adam’s mother, Lesha Murphy-Johnson, 41, worked for many years as the director of property management at the Wilmington Housing Authority, Ms. Doughty said. She was attending Cape Fear Community College along with owned a bartending business.

“My mother was loved by many people along with no one required to lose her so soon,” Ms. Doughty said. “She never let hard times get the best of her along with she always pushed my sisters along with I to follow our dreams no matter how difficult life may get.”

Ms. Murphy-Johnson’s husband along with Adam’s father, Adam Johnson, was pinned down by the falling tree. He was freed by emergency medical workers, Ms. Doughty said, along with was recovering.

On Thursday afternoon, family members sat on the front porch, still in disbelief.

“the item’s almost something you see on Lifetime or read in a book,” Ms. Davis, 28, said, “you know somebody died by a tree falling. the item’s surreal. the item just doesn’t seem real.”

Two weeks ago, the family had gathered for a seafood boil, along with young Adam got his first taste of applesauce, said Marie Murphy, Ms. Murphy-Johnson’s older sister.

He could not get enough, Ms. Murphy said: As soon as he finished the pouch, he reached out for another one.

“He was full of life,” she said. “Laughing, cooing along with putting his hand in his mouth. He was just so full of life along with because of This specific to happen, the item’s just like a shock to all of us.”