All interests along the coasts of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic are being put on alert for a potential strike from Hurricane Florence during the second half of the week. The Governor of S.C., Henry McMaster has already declared his state, “a state of emergency.”
Sandbag distribution has begun for homeowners, and N.C.. residents have already emptied shelves in some stores of food, water, and medications. Myrtle Beach hardware stores and supermarkets were busy ringing up sales of bottled water, plywood and generators. The U.S. Navy on Sunday ordered its warships and submarines at Naval Station Norfolk to prepare to leave the port as early as Monday.
“We are preparing for the worst and of course hoping for the best. Being prepared is always the best strategy,” McMaster said.
Forecasters urged residents from South Carolina to the mid-Atlantic to get ready — and not just for a direct blow against the coast. They warned that Florence could slow or stall after coming ashore, with some forecasting models showing it could unload a foot or two of rain in places, causing devastating inland flooding and extending up into the Appalachians.
“There is an increasing risk of two life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast and freshwater flooding from a prolonged heavy rainfall event inland,” the Miami-based center said in the advisory.
Florence is expected to be as strong as a Category 4 hurricane by the time it makes its closest approach to the United States from Wednesday to Thursday.
AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said that a Florence landfall along the U.S. East Coast is becoming more likely, with the Carolinas at greatest risk late this week.
The exact track of the storm will determine which locations receive the worst of Florence’s damaging winds, heavy rain, and storm surge flooding.
Regardless of which scenario pans out, experts are concerned that Florence will slow down and possibly stall near or inland of the coast, potentially leading to a life-threatening flooding situation.
Here are some helpful pre-storm prep tips:
- Make a plan. When emergency strikes it is important that you and your family have a plan in case you get separated. Agree on a common meeting place that is easy to find and a method of contact.
- Create a disaster kit. This should consist of water (one gallon per person per day for three days for all uses), three days worth of food, batteries, flashlights, first aid kit, cell phone with back up charger, help whistle, garbage bags, pliers, a manual can opener, and any critical medications. Your valuable documents should be tucked away in a waterproof container as well.
- Fill all your gas tanks. This should be done as soon as possible because gas is usually one of the first things to run out of before a hurricane.
- Make sure your windows are protected and your home is secured. This may mean putting up hurricane shutters, which should be done in the days prior to a hurricane coming. This also includes tying down or taking in any outdoor furniture, garbage cans, outdoor decor, or lawn supplies that can blow away during heavy winds.
- Know your property’s elevation level. This will help you in determining if your home is flood- prone and can help you prepare for storm surge or tidal flooding. Fill your bathtubs. Line the bathtub with plastic sheeting or a clean shower curtain, or caulk the drain with silicone caulking — it holds water for weeks and cleans up easily when dry.
If you live near the coast or in a flood-prone area, you may be asked to evacuate. Your “plan” should include researching your evacuation route and making arrangements in advance with family or friends for a safe place to stay.
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo, a category 4 hurricane, caused 34 fatalities (most by electrocution or drowning) in the Caribbean and 27 in South Carolina, left nearly 100,000 homeless, and resulted in $9.47 billion in damage overall, making it the most damaging hurricane ever recorded at the time.
Ref. NBC News, Fox News, The Weather Channel, MSN/weather.com, tripsavy.com
Photo courtesy of Bing