Thursday, 20 September, 2018

Athens prepares for Hurricane Florence, statewide emergency declared

Hurricane Florence Latest on Possible 'Storm of a Lifetime' 1.5m to evacuate as Hurricane Florence approaches US
Sandy Nunez | 14 September, 2018, 03:14

Cooper said the coastal region should prepare for life-threatening storm surge and wind, the central part of the state can expect heavy rains and wind, and western North Carolina should be prepared for heavy rains and related issues, like mudslides.

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

The "cone of error" in the forecast track only predicts where the storm's center might go, and even on its edges, winds can push a powerful storm surge into shore dozens of miles from where Florence's eyewall strikes land.

'I can't emphasise enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding with this storm'.

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!"

"Get out of its way, don't play games with it, it's a big one, maybe as big as they've seen", Trump said.

Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was imperative locals heed the evacuation warnings.

A state of emergency has also been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

The coastal surge from Florence could leave the eastern tip of North Carolina under more than 3 metres of water in spots, projections showed.

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In a news release Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal says the state "is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence".

The eastbound lanes of several major highways have been shut down to allow traffic to flow inland, but the exodus was slow along roads jammed with outward-bound vehicles.

Mayor Joe Benson of Carolina Beach, a small town near Wilmington with a permanent population of about 6,300, said he believes half of the residents have stayed on the island. "It's called Mother Nature, you never know, but we know", he added.

"This is a very fluid situation, especially now that new model runs are shifting the course of the storm south after landfall, potentially increasing its impact on SC and Georgia", St. Mary's Hospital spokesman Mark Ralston said.

"A motion toward the northwest is forecast to begin by this afternoon and continue through Thursday", the hurricane center says.

At 5 a.m., the storm was centered 575 miles (925 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph).

It urged residents to heed evacuation orders.

The ground in Athens already is saturated from the 27 inches of rain that fell since April, so flooding remains a possibility as a result of Hurricane Florence, according to King.