Millions prepare as Hurricane Florence approaches USA coast

Doug Carpenter
September 13, 2018

More than 1.5 million people living on the US East Coast have been ordered to leave their homes as Hurricane Florence heads towards them.

The hurricane is forecast to slow to a crawl just off the North Carolina coast on Friday, possibly moving at only two to three miles per hour.

Life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet (3.9 meters) were also forecast in some areas along with the possibility of tornadoes in North Carolina. But authorities warned Florence has an enormous wind field that has been growing larger, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely unsafe.

The Atlantic hurricane is located about 450km east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, packing maximum sustained winds of 175km/h, the NHC said.

Hurricane Florence weakened to a Category 2 storm, according to the 11 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center, and it will likely remain at Cat 2 strength upon making landfall.

Even with some weakening that's predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a risky major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

He noted that emergency services may be pulled out of high-risk areas ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall due to the severe risk posed to emergency responders.

A state of emergency has been declared in D.C. and in states, including Virginia and the Carolina's.

"Whether or not the game could have been played, we made the decision we think is best for the state and those who are evacuating the coast", athletics director Ray Tanner said in a statement released by the school.

Millions of people on the East Coast of the United States find themselves in the path of a monster Category 4 hurricane that threatens catastrophic coastal flooding and damage in the billions of USA dollars.

TRT World's Nicole Johnston is on the coast in Wilmington, North Carolina, where people are preparing for the worst. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle. "We just need to figure out how to make it through".

Mr Cooper's warnings were echoed by his SC counterpart, Henry McMaster, who stated that emergency services may not be able to reach residents if they remain in areas where evacuation orders have been issued.

Forecasters anxious the storm's damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. Most other beachgoers were long gone. "You feel like you should have already left".

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