Louisiana first responders head to Carolinas ahead of Hurricane Florence

Cristina Cross
September 14, 2018

"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas through Wednesday, and approach the coast of North Carolina or SC on Thursday".

Even Wilmington, North Carolina - a coastal city accustomed to severe weather - is bracing for an unusually brutal impact.

The Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states are bracing for Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm which is teetering on becoming stronger before landfall later this week.

"The key really is this thing is going to be a huge storm when it threatens the coast and this is just something that doesn't happen every day when you see things lining up as they are", he continued. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster".

Florence was expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and wring itself out for days, unloading 1 to 2 1/2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 metres) of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms. "So the call to return the favor to SC now is a very important one for us to answer", Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said.

He said that the federal government was prepared to spend whatever was necessary and make every preparation possible for the storm. "A lot of local people are staying", she said of the island, which is reachable only by ferry or plane.

On Tuesday afternoon, data from an Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft showed that Florence's sustained winds had picked up in speed again, hovering close to 140 miles per hour.

Although the storm's winds will likely diminish rapidly after making landfall, the heavy rain will persist as it stalls over portions of North Carolina and Virginia.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. Florence's storm surge threatens more than 750,000 homes in the region, according to the property analytics firm CoreLogic.

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Both of the Carolinas and Virginia ordered mandatory evacuations for some of their residents starting at noon Tuesday and over a million people are expected to flee.

Early Tuesday, authorities began closing inbound lanes of Interstate 26 into Charleston to help facilitate the traffic flow of those wanting to get out. Other counties are evacuating low lying and flood prone areas. While wind damage is still ordinarily covered, insurers that were stung by storms such as Sandy in 2012, which swamped NY and New Jersey, have inserted clauses in their policies that limit coverage and set high deductibles, particularly when storms reach hurricane status.

"That's how the atmosphere works", he said. A hospital in Hampton, Virginia, was transferring patients to safer places.

Boards are set up outside a grocery store before Hurricane Florence makes landfall. "The power is going to be off for weeks and you're going to be displaced from your home and the coastal areas", Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told reporters alongside U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House.

"We are sparing no expense".

"It's well south of us", said Hubbard.

Trump faced severe criticism for his administration's response to Hurricane Maria previous year in Puerto Rico.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe says the team will leave Durham on Thursday instead of its typical Friday departure because it's "our best opportunity to get out". It remains an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday night.

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