People flee as 'catastrophic' Hurricane Florence sweeps towards America

Pat Wise
September 15, 2018

Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall by early Friday, bringing a storm surge as much as 13 feet (4 meters).

Losses from Florence could be on par with those from two previous storms: Hurricane Hazel, which ravaged North Carolina in 1954, causing $15 billion in losses, and Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which caused $20 billion, according to a report from risk modeling firm RMS on Tuesday.

But forecasters warned that the widening storm - and the likelihood of it lingering around the coast for days - would bring seawater surging on to land and torrential downpours.

"Hugo was a direct hit", he said. "We're kind of at the mercy of the storm".

"The time to prepare is nearly over", he said.

An Oklahoma search and rescue helicopter team left Wednesday for Hurricane Florence and will be stationed in Tennessee and the Carolinas along the East Coast to respond as needed, the Oklahoma City Fire Department reported.

Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 80 miles from the eye of the storm, and tropical-storm-force winds now extend up to 195 miles from the center of the storm. Although the latest tracks suggest that the center of the storm will pass to our south, we'll still likely feel some effects as early as Thursday. Then it is likely to hover along the coast on Saturday, pushing up to 13ft of storm surge.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

Kevin Miller, a 50-year-old electrician, said he planned to ride out the storm at his home near Charleston.

"We are looking at a potentially catastrophic ... flash flooding and significant river flooding event as we go through this entire scenario", Feltgen told WTOP.

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"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said. In Pender County, North Carolina, one woman died after she suffered a heart attack and paramedics were unable to reach her due to blocked roads authorities said.

One trusted computer model, the European simulation, predicted more than 45 inches in parts of North Carolina.

"Don't relax; don't get complacent".

"This storm is going to knock out power days into weeks". "Today's the day", he said.

About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said.

Timing: When Will Hurricane Florence Strike?

Winds are dicey at times in Long Island around that timeframe, with New England and the Canadian Maritimes seeing lighter, more favorable winds at times.

North and SC and Virginia ordered mass evacuations along the coast. Airlines had canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting through Friday.

People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes or get out of town. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

Frustrated after evacuating his beach home for a storm that has since been downgraded, retired nurse Frederick Fisher grumbled in the lobby of a hotel in Wilmington several miles inland. "I've got four cats inside the house".

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