1.5m to evacuate as Hurricane Florence approaches US

Olive Hawkins
September 14, 2018

A hurricane warning went into effect from South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina.

US President Donald Trump has authorised emergency measures to free up federal funds to help those responding to the storm.

"Don't play games with it". It's a big one'.

A sign is seen on a boarded up vacation rentals office near Wrightsville beach, North Carolina on September 12, 2018.

Hurricane Florence, which early on Wednesday was expected to make landfall on Friday near Wilmington, N.C., pushed oil prices higher on Tuesday. The track also shifted somewhat south and west, throwing Georgia into peril as Florence moves inland.

People fleeing North and SC clogged coastal highways early Wednesday as Hurricane Florence, a monster Category 4 storm, bore down on the United States east coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.

Appeals to stay safe came from as far away as space as German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted pictures of the monster storm taken from the International Space Station along with the warning: "Watch out, America!"

HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS: Do you have what you need for the storm? It was packing winds of 215kmh and enough moisture to dump 30cm of rain on the region.

Georgia joined 4 other coastal states issuing an emergency declaration as forecasts showed Florence dumping historic amounts of torrential rain on the southern state.

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"We will experience power outages, we will have infrastructure damaged, there will be homes damaged, and there will be debris on the roads", said Jeff Byard, an official from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

More than 1 million people are under mandatory evacuations in the Carolinas and Virginia, and about 30 million across the Southeast will be affected if the forecast holds, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said. Cars and trucks full of people and belongings streamed inland.

"They say it's about as big as they've seen coming to this country and certainly to the East Coast as they've ever seen".

"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said.

"Once you leave, hard to get back in to check on damage", he said.

For many of those under evacuation orders, getting out of harm's way has proved difficult, as airlines cancelled flights and motorists had a hard time finding gas. "Everyone was sold out", she said. It is the most unsafe of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. The slow-moving storm, with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, is expected. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

"We face three critical threats from Florence: ocean surge along our coast, strong winds, and inland flooding from heavy rain", North Carolina Governor Cooper said on Monday. Broadline and discount retailers including Walmart(WMT) and Dollar General(DG) could see modest boosts to comparable sales, as last year's storms added at least 0.30 percentage point to Dollar General's and Walmart's US same-store sales.

In Wilmington, resident Michael Wilson fortified his home against the wind and rain, and anxious.

"The biggest thing is you're always anxious about yourself and friends and family - and whether they'll have a place to come back to", he said.

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