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12 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 September, 2018 12:09:41 AM
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Over a million told to flee as hurricane stalks US coast

AFP
Over a million told to flee as hurricane stalks US coast

Powerful Hurricane Florence was tracking towards the US East Coast yesterday, prompting authorities to order upwards of one million people to evacuate the path of the extremely dangerous storm forecasters said could soon intensify, reports AFP from Charleston. Residents scrambled to flee en masse as the menacing Category 4 storm packing winds of 140 miles (220 kilometers) per hour bore down on the East Coast of the United States. "This is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years," President Donald Trump warned on Twitter. "Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!"

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered as many as one million residents of the state's eastern coast to leave their homes ahead of the storm's possible arrival on Thursday. Schools in 26 of the state's 46 counties were to close from Tuesday.

The governor of neighboring North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County, while a state of emergency was declared in Virginia.

"This is a very dangerous hurricane," McMaster said, adding that the evacuation order for coastal counties was "mandatory, not voluntary."

"We do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane," the governor told reporters. "We're liable to have a whole lot of flooding."

Hours later Trump approved emergency declarations for both coastal states, a standard move allowing the release of federal funds and equipment to aid in protection and recovery efforts.

The US president said he had spoken with governors of threatened states, adding that the "federal government stands by, ready to assist 24/7."

Hurricane Florence has the potential to bring catastrophic flooding to areas of the eastern United States already soaked by heavy rain and it may be the strongest storm to hit the region in decades.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Florence was 465 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and the center of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 11:00 pm (0300 GMT) advisory. Forecasters expected some strengthening

in the next 36 hours, as Florence marched west-northwest at around 13 miles per hour.

At a hardware store in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, store manager John Johnson said the rush on batteries, flashlights, plastic tarps and sandbags began Friday.

"From eight o'clock 'til two we were slammed," said Johnson, who sold scores of bags of sand over the weekend, saving just a few to barricade the store's own doors.

"We were nonstop."

Nurse Barbara Mack was using a small shovel to fill sandbags at a public works facility in Charleston -- but she saw a silver lining in the hurricane preparations.

"This is probably the only exercise I get this week," she quipped.

Also out for sandbags was Deborah LaRoche. Half her supply was going to barricade a basement soup kitchen she managed, and the other half was going to protect her own home on nearby Johns Island.

She and her husband would decide Tuesday morning whether to evacuate their family of two kids and a dog, said LaRoche. Having grown up in storm-prone Florida, she said she's careful not to underestimate any hurricane.

"It doesn't matter what happened in (previous) storms," said LaRoche, a social services director. "This one is different."

Storm surge and hurricane watches may be issued early Tuesday for portions of southeastern US states, the NHC said.

On its current track, Florence is expected to slam the Carolinas and Virginia the hardest. "Don't concentrate on the exact forecast track of Hurricane #Florence. Significant effects will extend outside the cone, and will arrive at the coast sooner than the eye," the National Weather Service warned.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office predicted "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages," cautioning that the deadliest risk would come from flooding.

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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