10 October, 2018
People fleeing North and SC clogged coastal highways early Wednesday as Hurricane Florence, a monster Category 4 storm, bore down on the USA east coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.
At 2300 EDT (0300 GMT), the NHC said Florence had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 km), and was slowly drifting westward over SC. The Florence is expected to approach both north and south coast of Carolina after hitting the Bermuda and Bahamas on Thursday.
"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the NHC said.
"Today is your last day to get out of the areas that have been placed under evacuation orders", FEMA's Long said.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 11 a.m. advisory Florence will move west-northwestward between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Wednesday. US President Donald Trump on Twitter warned of the storm's dangers and praised his administration's handling of past hurricanes, rejecting criticism for its response to Hurricane Maria a year ago in Puerto Rico.
Almost two million people in North and SC as well as Virginia were warned to evacuate by Tuesday night as hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area encompassing about 5.4 million residents.
Forecasters are predicting that Florence will make landfall in the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday as a still powerful Category 3 hurricane.
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For anyone needing a place to stay to escape the hurricane, both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters.
With flood waters advancing rapidly in many communities, around 50 stranded people had been airlifted out by helicopter in North Carolina, said Petty Officer Michael Himes of the U.S. Coast Guard. In North Carolina, Cooper says, "2,800 soldiers will be on active duty, joined by even more on standby".
As a major hurricane heads for the East Coast, many supermarkets and food retailers are preparing for the storm.
The hurricane, which originated in the ocean off the west coast of Africa, is now being called a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centers to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.
"There's really no way it's going to move up here as a tropical system", NWS Spokesman Bill Simpson told Boston.com, adding that New Englanders can expect high surf, elevated sea swell and possible rip currents as a result of Hurricane Florence.
The tropical storm-force winds extend 280 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, which is far enough to reach from Boston to Philadelphia. With that much size and strength, even a glancing blow from Florence could be devastating - something forecasters stressed as they noted the shift in Florence's predicted track. "It's a big one", he said. "It goes well inland".
President Trump says the Federal Emergency Management Agency and first responders are poised to help - but he also warned people to get out of the storm's path.
In Charleston, South Carolina, some residents were making preparations to leave Tuesday while others planned to ride out the storm. "As guests stock up, we know some of these items are selling out, but we're working around the clock to restock them as long as we safely can", the company said in a statement.