Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

FEMA prepares for 'dangerous storm' Florence

Florence strengthens to Category 4 storm Mandatory evacuations issued for Outer Banks ahead of Florence
Faye Gross | 12 September, 2018, 03:32

With maximum sustained winds near 130 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center, Florence's most risky aspect could be the amount of rain it could dump as it moves up the East Coast after making landfall, with flooding and power outages expected across the Carolinas, Virginia and West Virginia early on.

The approach of Hurricane Florence has sparked mandatory evacuations for parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, where the center of the Category 4 storm is expected to arrive on Thursday. A storm with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour classifies as a Category 3 major hurricane, according to the NHC.

US President Donald Trump signed declarations of emergency for both North Carolina and SC, freeing up federal money and resources for storm response. So it may shift over the coming days, but if predictions hold, Florence is set to be the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in North Carolina since Hurricane Hugo tore through the state in 1989.

Mandatory evacuation orders are in effect Tuesday in three US states as forecasters and officials urge people to get ready for devastating winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Florence.

"It's an extremely unsafe, life-threatening, historic hurricane. the forecast shows Florence stalling over North Carolina, bringing days and days of rain". The hurricane caused an estimated $90 billion in damage there and on the U.S. Virgin Islands, making it the third-costliest hurricane in American history. This could lead to massive flooding in many of North Carolina's inlets.

But the landfall intensity of that storm was 250 km/h when it hit Puerto Rico, it added.

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The state Transportation Department said it is seeing three times as much traffic on I-26 as normal due to the evacuation, said transportation head Christy Hall.

Craig Fugate, a former Fema director, said: "I'm afraid, based on my experience at Fema, that the public is probably not as prepared as everybody would like".

Sharp doesn't like to compare hurricanes because each one is different, but he did note that Florence is a stronger storm than Matthew, which hit the state in 2016.

FEMA is under close scrutiny this year after the agency admitted it was "underprepared" Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last year. The biggest risks from Hurricane Florence may not come from wind, but from the associated rainfall.

Officials are expecting the evacuation traffic to peak Thursday morning.

"You're going to get heavy rain, catastrophic life-threatening storm surge, and also the winds", Graham said. Heavy rain may impact as far inland as Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, though the severity will depend on the storm's track, according to The Charlotte Observer. If you are in these areas, or have ties there, take the warning and evacuation orders seriously. "With Florence strengthening into a hurricane this morning and continuing to move west, Florida families need to remain alert and remember that storms like this can change course and strengthen at any moment", said Gov. Rick Scott.

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Florence strengthens into hurricane; could become Cat 3 by Monday Florence strengthens into hurricane; could become Cat 3 by Monday This could become an extremely risky situation for folks in those areas, who should monitor the progress of this storm closely. South Carolina's Emergency Management Division also advised people living on the coast to start making contingency plans.