ATLANTA — With Hurricane Florence swiftly gaining strength and bearing down on the Southeast, Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina on Monday ordered more than a million people living in eight coastal counties to evacuate inland.“We do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane,” the governor said at a news conference…
ATLANTA — With Hurricane Florence swiftly gaining strength and bearing down on the Southeast, Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina on Monday ordered more than a million people living in eight coastal counties to evacuate inland.
“We do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane,” the governor said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Evacuations were also ordered in parts of North Carolina as the region braced for a major destructive hurricane projected to make landfall late Thursday or Friday, with damaging winds, torrential rains and a potentially destructive storm surge.
The South Carolina evacuation order takes effect at noon Tuesday. Governor McMaster said that lanes of two major divided highways — Interstate 26 and U.S. 501 — would be reversed to make the roads one-way, carrying traffic only away from the coast, and that two others may also be reversed if needed. Schools and state offices in about half the state would be closed starting on Tuesday, the governor said.
Hurricane Florence swiftly strengthened into a major storm on Monday as it churned across the Atlantic Ocean toward the coast of the Carolinas. The National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm at noon to Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, indicating sustained winds of between 130 and 156 miles an hour. The upgrade came only an hour after the center had upgraded the storm to Category 3.
Forecasting models show the hurricane headed for a landfall somewhere near the border of North Carolina and South Carolina. Destructive winds extending as far as 140 miles in all directions from the storm’s center may be felt on shore as soon as Wednesday night.
President Trump, who was criticized for his response to the crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria last year, signaled that he was on top of this storm in apair of tweetson Monday.
In coastal Dare County, N.C., the local emergency management agency announced a mandatory evacuation order that took effect Monday at noon, for all residents and visitors on Hatteras Island, the long, slender barrier island off the North Carolina coast.
A similar order will go into effect Tuesday for other nearby communities, including Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Roanoke Island, Duck, Manteo, Southern Shores and the mainland portion of Dare County, according to a statement from the county.
Social media users reported that stores in both states were being bought out of bottled water and other supplies as residents prepared for the storm.
The hurricane center warned that in addition to damaging winds, the “extremely dangerous” storm posed two kinds of flooding threats — a storm surge of salt water along the coast, and freshwater flooding inland from very heavy rains — as well as dangerous surf and riptides along much of the Eastern Seaboard.