Over a million people are to be evacuated from America’s eastern coastline as Hurricane Florence is on course to make its anticipated landfall on late Thursday or early Friday. The category four hurricane (likely intensifying to near category five) is so extensive that a deadly storm surge is being thrust 480km ahead of its eye.
With torrential rainfall, the disastrous storm surge and destructive winds, authorities in coastal areas have taken pre-emptive measures to ensure safety.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster instructed that all coastal areas be vacated, with an estimated number of a million affected while his North Carolina counterpart called for the evacuation of around 50,000 people from Hatteras and Ocracoke on its Outer Banks barrier islands, areas likely to be most devastated.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered around 245,000 evacuated from flood-prone lowland regions, exhorting people to prepare against the storm that he insisted would affect the whole State.
A state of emergency was declared in Virginia’s state capital, Raymond with residents urged to stock on supplies, food, water and batteries as heavy rainfall is expected.
Inland residents have also been warned to brace for power cuts and flooding.
The hurricane’s initial impact was felt in some places with perilous rip currents hitting beaches and seawater flooding a highway on barrier islands off the coast. Communities along the coastline took the early warning and prepared for evacuation.
The problem for many is finding safe zones as torrential rains in higher areas will probably unleash floodwaters rushing down to the sea. This will be a certainty if Florence slows just off the coast, as it will create severe rainfall in the Appalachian Mountains and as far as West Virginia, in turn causing flooding, mudslides and other dangerous conditions.
Another worry is that the storm’s would-be route still includes a number of nuclear power plants, pits containing industrial waste and several pig farms that store copious amounts of animal waste in open coves.
Residents have heeded the warnings as local supply stores have been emptied with people stocking up on generators, rope, sandbags and fuel.
Meteorologists have warned Florence could have similar features of Hurricane Harvey, a storm that last year dumped heavy rain over Texas for days.
The storm is currently hundreds of miles south of Bermuda and is moving at 27kph.