South Carolina declares emergency ahead of storm Florence

Minnie NorrisSep 13, 2018

Tropical Storm Florence is now projected to reach the United States East Coast by late in the week as a major hurricane.

In South Carolina alone, more than 1 million residents and tourists are expected to flee from coastal areas, Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday, vowing that state officials "are not going to gamble" with people's lives.

The National Hurricane Center said Saturday that Florence will start to rapidly intensify Sunday, and be a major hurricane by Tuesday. The storms are two of three hurricanes now spinning in the Atlantic. The state's emergency management agency said it is "preparing for the possibility of a large-scale disaster".

"We here in North Carolina are bracing for a hard hit", Cooper said Monday.

Trump tweeted Monday afternoon that the federal government was monitoring the storm and was ready to help.

Currently, Florence is moving to the west near 7 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour. a general west to northwestward motion is expected to continue for the next several days with an increase in forward motion expected by mid-week.

Dare County officials ordered everyone to leave Hatteras Island on Monday. She grew up on the shore and says this will be only the second time she's evacuated.

Gov. Henry McMaster of SC announced, "A hurricane is coming our way". The order applies to all eight counties along the coast: Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry and Berkeley counties.

The center says Florence is expected to strengthen further as it moves over the southwester Atlantic between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I don't think many of us have ever been through a Category 4". The center warns that such storms will snap or uproot most trees and down power poles and that power can be out in some areas for weeks or months.

The storm is forecast to become a "major hurricane" Monday, travel between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday before approaching the southeastern USA coast on Thursday, the Miami-based weather center said. Any Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricane is classified as a major hurricane. Forecasters also warned that the threat of a life-threatening storm surge was rising. Even before the evacuation order, Dare County emergency officials warned that rough seas and strong rip currents already were creating unsafe conditions.

Red flags on beaches warned swimmers to stay out of waters already roiled by the distant storm, and cruise ships and Navy vessels were being steered out of harm's way, the Associated Press reported People rushed to buy bottled water, plywood, and other supplies.

South Carolina's governor says residents should count on "a lot of wind and a lot of rain" from Hurricane Florence this week. Rivers are high, and the storm will be moving slowly when it arrives, exacerbating the danger, Rossi told USA TODAY.

"If this, which is looking sort of like a worst-case scenario, comes to pass, there's going to be a lot of folks rushing out at the last minute to get supplies", Nick Petro, National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist in Raleigh, North Carolina, said in a briefing on Florence Sunday.

"All of the evidence points to an extreme disaster in the making in the mid-East Coast/Carolina region", said Bryan Norcross, a senior hurricane specialist with the Weather Channel.

The U.S. Navy is making preparations this weekend for its ships in the Hampton Roads area to leave port as Tropical Storm Florence approaches the East Coast.

Governors in both SC and Virginia declared a state of emergency Saturday to give their states time to prepare for the possible arrival of the storm. Roberts said he's telling them to get out of town. "The best safety plan is preparation and common sense". Hurricane Isaac was expected to lose strength as it reaches the Caribbean, and Helene, much farther out to sea, may veer northward into the open ocean as the 2018 hurricane season reaches its peak.

Mike Herring with Frank's Ice Company unloads another pallet of ice as people buy supplies at The Home Depot on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, in Wilmington, N.C. Hurricane Florence rapidly strengthened into a potentially catastrophic hurricane on Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week.

In the Pacific, Hurricane Olivia triggered warnings for multiple Hawaiian islands as it blew west toward an arrival over the state as soon as late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

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