South Carolina Shuts Down and Evacuates as Hurricane Florence Expands

ABC NewsFlorence's path has it slowing and spinning just off the coast of North Carolina

ABC NewsFlorence's path has it slowing and spinning just off the coast of North Carolina

SC and North Carolina have ordered evacuations for people living in vulnerable areas along the coast.

Hurricane Florence is expected to strengthen into a near-Category 5 storm as it approaches the USA where 1.7 million people have been warned to get out of the way.

North and SC and Virginia ordered mass evacuations along the coast. Sustained winds were 130 miles per hour (215 kph) Tuesday morning, but it remains a Category 4 storm and is expected to approach the most-damaging Category 5 status as it slows and strengthens over very warm ocean water near North and SC.

A spokeswoman for D.C. Water said the utility was forming 24/7 emergency shifts for the storm and is busy securing a flood wall to protect its Blue Plains Water Treatment Facility overlooking the Potomac River. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different.

"It can save your life", he said.

Officials are anxious that the downpours caused by the hurricane could result in heavy flooding, like that seen after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017.

To hasten evacuations in SC, officials reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so all major roads led away from the shore.

On Ocracoke Island along North Carolina's Outer Banks, Kelley Shinn and her partner packed their Jeep with clothes and other things and took a ferry to the mainland.

Florence was expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and wring itself out for days, unloading 1 to 2½ feet of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

But NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen stressed the effects of Florence would be widely felt. The company issued assurances this week that it is ready for Florence, which is predicted to pack winds of up to 140 miles per hour and a 13-foot storm surge.

ABC News Rainfall could be as much as 40 inches locally along the North Carolina coast
ABC News Rainfall could be as much as 40 inches locally along the North Carolina coast

Hurricane Hugo, the strongest hurricane ever to impact North Carolina, actually made landfall just north of Charleston, South Carolina in 1989 with 130 miles per hour (209 km/h) winds.

"We are already experiencing heavily impacted traffic on some of the evacuation routes", said Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The National Hurricane Center advisory tracking Hurricane Florence, as of 5 p.m. on September 11, 2018. Eight dogs and 18 cats from a shelter in Norfolk, Virginia, were sent to two shelters in Washington to make room for pets expected to be displaced by the hurricane.

After Florence reaches the North Carolina coast, the consensus of the models indicates that the center of Florence might drift down the SC coast, spreading the misery into that state, perhaps significantly affecting Charleston and even Savannah.

Ever since the federal government's inadequate preparation and relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 under former president George W Bush, storm preparedness has become an increasingly scrutinized measure of an administration's efficiency. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.

Days before its arrival, Florence was already disrupting commercial operations.

Boeing Co suspended work on Tuesday at the SC plant where it assembles 787 widebody jetliners, and a Volvo automobile plant in South Carolina's evacuation zone was also closed, company officials said.

"Isaac is anticipated to move near or over the central Lesser Antilles on Thursday, move into the eastern Caribbean Sea Thursday night, and move into the central Caribbean Sea by the weekend", NHC officials said in an advisory issued today at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT).

People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes or get out of town.

Some petrol stations were running dry as customers filled up.

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