At least six dead as heavy rains and Tropical Storm Eta soak southeast

At least six people are dead, including five in North Carolina, as Tropical Storm Eta soaked the southeast and made landfall for the second time in four days in Florida.

The National Hurricane Center said that heavy rain and flooding in the Tar Heel state wasn’t directly linked to the storm, but was part of a “frontal boundary” that had spread north across the Carolinas on Thursday.

By Thursday night, the center of the storm was just off the South Carolina coast, bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to the region, the center said. Eta was moving northeast at 17 mph.

Authorities in Alexander County, North Carolina, said that three bodies were found at a flooded campground about 60 miles north of Charlotte on Thursday morning. Thirty-one people were rescued from the Hiddenite Family Campground and two people are still missing.

Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman said that the campground has a fast-rising river that has previously seen evacuations amid heavy rain.

“That’s exactly what happened last night and this morning,” he told reporters, adding that it had been years since a storm dumped so much water at one time on the region.

Another person died in a car accident in the nearby community of Vashti after one of four bridges in the county were washed out by what officials described as major flooding.

The county saw 10 inches of rain overnight, leaving 50 roads compromised, said Alexander County director of public services Doug Gillespie.

In Rolesville, east of Raleigh, a child drowned in a flooded creek, authorities in Wake County said Thursday, and in Manatee County, Florida, a man died late Wednesday after being shocked by electrical appliances. He had been trying to sandbag his flooded garage, said Jacob Sauer, the county’s director of public safety.

In Charlotte, the fire department rescued 143 students from a charter school north of the city. Images showed what appeared to be more than a dozen cars submerged in water.

No injuries were reported.

Earlier Thursday, the storm made landfall in Florida, bringing high winds and storm surge to a swathe of the Sunshine State’s Gulf Coast. Eta made landfall at 4 a.m. on Cedar Key with 50 mph winds.

Overnight, the storm dumped three to seven inches of rain in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota area.

Tampa’s rainfall of 3.99 inches on Wednesday was the wettest November day on record; Sarasota’s 6.41 inches was also the wettest November day on record.

Photos posted online by the Bradenton Police Department showed extensive flooding in that city, which is 45 miles south of Tampa.

Thursday’s Florida landfall was Eta’s fourth overall on its winding journey across the Caribbean Sea.

It first made landfall as a deadly Category 4 storm in Nicaragua and has visited several countries in nine days, killing dozens in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.