Hurricane Florence Prompts Mandatory Evacuations (Videos)

NOAA's satellite image of Hurricane Florence (Courtesy of NOAA)
Governors in the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland have declared emergencies. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said flooding could be catastrophic if it hits the state. "We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst," he said. Pictured here, NOAA's satellite image of Hurricane Florence (Courtesy of NOAA)

By Jay Croft, Paul P. Murphy and Kaylee Hartung, CNN

As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast of the United States, the governors of North and South Carolina have issued mandatory evacuation orders affecting tens of thousands of residents in coastal areas.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Florence twice Monday, saying the storm will continue to strengthen as it targets the Carolinas later this week.

It could be the most devastating to hit the region in three decades.

(The National Weather Service upgraded Hurricane Florence to a Category 4 storm, meaning it is capable of creating “catastrophic” damage. Florence now has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, the center said. Courtesy of CNN and YouTube. Posted on Sep 10, 2018.)

Swells up to 15 feet could batter the coast, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

And heavy rains could cause flooding inland for days after landfall.

“This is a real hurricane we have coming,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday. “We don’t want to risk one South Carolina life.”

A mandatory evacuation order takes effect Tuesday at noon in eight counties along South Carolina’s 187-mile coastline.

Starting then, all roads on I-26 and Route 501 will be directed away from the coast, he said.

Schools, state government offices and medical facilities, including nursing homes in those counties, will be evacuated as well, McMaster said.

He estimated that about one million people will be affected by order, including residents and visitors.

Mandatory evacuations begin Tuesday at noon in these areas of South Carolina.

(South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster orders mandatory evacuations along its entire coastline saying, “we do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane.” Hurricane Florence is powering its way through the Atlantic expected to make landfall in the Carolina’s Thursday. Courtesy of MSNBC and YouTube. Posted on Sep 10, 2018.)

In North Carolina, the first mandatory evacuation order was issued at noon, and Gov. Roy Cooper expects more later Monday and Tuesday.

“North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously, and you should, too,” Cooper said, urging residents to prepare for lengthy power outages after the hurricane comes.

Residents of coastal areas are boarding up homes and packing their bags as residents brace for Florence’s wrath. 

Courtesy of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division
Courtesy of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division

Crystal Kirwan didn’t see she had much choice as she got her family ready to leave their home Monday on the coast of North Carolina, with Category 4 Hurricane Florence threatening the state.

“This one is hard,” she said, having been through hurricane damage before. “We live paycheck to paycheck, being a military family, and it’s four days until payday.”

She, her husband and children will make the 4½-hour drive to family in Dover, Delaware, as soon as he is cleared from duty.

“Probably not too much better, but most likely safer than here,” she said.

Similar scenes were repeated up and down the US East Coast, from Virginia to Savannah, Georgia.

Grocery stores began selling out of water, milk and bread, and supply stores were struggling to stock batteries, plywood and generators as early as Sunday.

“This storm gets stronger and stronger” on its way to a head-on impact with a zone that ranges some 80 miles, Myers said.

(Hurricane Florence is forecasted to be a strong Category 4 storm by the time it makes landfall Thursday evening. Capital Weather Gang’s Angela Fritz explains what that could mean for the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Courtesy of the Washington Post and YouTube. Posted on Sep 10, 2018.)

Storm growing quickly

On Sunday, the hurricane center reported that Florence had reached sustained winds of at least 74 mph to be classified a hurricane.

Some tourists and residents were still outside enjoying pleasant weather as forecasters said computer models narrowed the grim target with clearer consensus.

By Monday morning, the hurricane center classified Florence as a “major” hurricane, Category 3, meaning it was packing sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

It was picking up speed over the warm waters of the Atlantic, causing forecasters to worry not only about landfall — but about flooding brought by heavy rains afterward, possibly late Thursday or Friday.