1m ordered to clear out from Carolinas

The powerful Hurricane Florence threatened to bring "days and days" of rain and potentially deadly flooding to the US southeast coast, North Carolina's governor warned on Tuesday, as some 1 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes.

  • Published 12.09.18
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A Nasa handout picture taken from the International Space Station shows Hurricane Florence as it churns in the Atlantic. (AFP Photo/Nasa/Ricky Arnold)

Holden Beach, North Carolina: The powerful Hurricane Florence threatened to bring "days and days" of rain and potentially deadly flooding to the US southeast coast, North Carolina's governor warned on Tuesday, as some 1 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes.

The storm threatened to hit coastal North and South Carolina with 210kmph winds and massive waves when it makes landfall on Friday, and its rains will take a heavy toll for miles inland, the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned.

"This storm is a monster," North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said at a news conference on Tuesday. "It's an extremely dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane ... the forecast shows Florence stalling over North Carolina, bringing days and days of rain."

Cooper and his counterparts in neighbouring South Carolina and Virginia ordered about 1 million people to evacuate coastal homes, including along the Outer Banks barrier islands that protect North Carolina's shore. Officials in South Carolina reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so that all major roads led away from the sea to speed evacuations.

The slow-moving storm, the most severe hurricane to threaten the US mainland this year, was rated a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and located about 1,455km east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, at 1500GMT, according to the NHC.

Flooded streets in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday. (AFP)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed declarations of emergency for both North Carolina and South Carolina, freeing up federal money and resources for storm response. Officials have declared states of emergency in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

In addition to flooding the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 3.7 metres, Florence could drop 51 cm to 76 cm of rain in places, forecasters said.

"This storm is going to be a direct hit on our coast," said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "We are planning for devastation."

Not everyone was in a hurry to leave. Charles Mullen, 81, a longtime resident of Hatteras Island, North Carolina, said he had ridden out many storms and that most locals were planning to stay unless Florence took aim at Hatteras.

"If it decides to come here, we're gone," he said.

Residents prepared by boarding up their homes and stripping grocery stores bare of food, water and supplies. Some petrol stations also ran low on fuel. "This is still a very dangerous storm." Reuters

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