Georgia declares state of emergency for all counties ahead of Hurricane Florence

Pat Wise
October 10, 2018

People fleeing North and SC clogged coastal highways early Wednesday as Hurricane Florence, a monster Category 4 storm, bore down on the U.S. east coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes. At 1200 GMT on Wednesday the storm was located about 855km southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.

The peak wind forecast predictions are now at 60-80 miles-per-hour with gusts to 100 miles-per-hour possible, with a potential for higher sustained winds of 74 to 110 mph wind in the Myrtle Beach area from Thursday morning through Saturday afternoon.

"This will likely be the storm of a lifetime", the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina said.

With predicted rainfall measured in feet not inches, forecasters say people living along creeks and rivers in the Carolinas should move to higher ground well ahead of the storm's arrival.

SC authorities said law enforcement officers were guarding against looting in evacuated areas, while Wilmington set a curfew on Saturday evening in response to looting in one area.

"A motion toward the northwest is forecast to begin by this afternoon and continue through Thursday", the hurricane center says. "In light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall, I encourage Georgians to be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas".

Tropical storm-force winds extended 195 miles (315 kilometers) from Florence's center, and hurricane-force winds reached out 70 miles (110 kilometers).

Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, knocking out power and causing at least eight deaths as flood waters that have devastated many communities kept rising.

Storm surge flooding does not include floods caused by the heavy rain from the hurricane, such as what happened a year ago in Houston with Hurricane Harvey and in North Carolina in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew. As of Saturday, about 676,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina, along with 119,000 in SC.

Up to 3 million of Duke Energy's 4 million Carolina customers could experience outages, the company said.

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Tens of thousands of homes and businesses could be flooded in North Carolina alone, Governor Cooper warned.

Storm surge, the massive mound of water that builds up and comes ashore during a hurricane, is often the deadliest and most destructive threat from the storms.

If the forecast holds, Hurricane Florence will become the highest north on the East Coast that a Category 4 hurricane has ever made landfall.

Walking his dog along empty streets, Belli said he's well stocked with food and water.

"Florence is expected to slow down considerably by late Thursday into Friday, and move through early Saturday", the NHC said. Floyd produced 24 inches of rain in some parts of the state, while Florence has already dumped about 30 inches in areas around Swansboro.

"This storm is going to be a direct hit", he added.

Tecklenburg said his flood-prone city is preparing for "copious rain" by clearing out the city's drainage system and getting boats and portable pumps ready.

President Trump says the Federal Emergency Management Agency and first responders are poised to help - but he also warned people to get out of the storm's path.

"Almost every North Carolinian is going to be affected by this storm in one way or another", Cooper said. You never know. But we know.

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