According to data from analytics firm CoreLogic, the hurricane, which is expected to hit on Friday or Saturday, could damage up to 750,000 homes.
The firm also forecast Hurricane Florence could do up to $US170 billion worth of damage. For context, Hurricane Katrina caused around US$161 billion in damage. Katrina also claimed 1,400 lives.
The storm is not expected to cause that level of loss of life, but high winds and flooding are expected to impact South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
WATCH: South Carolina Highway Patrol leads traffic inland from Charleston to Columbia in reversed lanes as Category 4 Hurricane Florence approaches the Carolina coast.
(Video via SC Highway Patrol) pic.twitter.com/QMdi2naaVc
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 11, 2018
East Coast bracing for a “marathon event” in Hurricane Florence
The storm is currently around 1250 km (785 miles) from the coast and moving with winds of 225 km/hour (140 miles per hour).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is warning people to evacuate now before roads are potentially cut off. The Highway Patrol has been chaperoning vehicles away from the coast on highways that have been turned into one-way roads.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long told CBS This Morning that Florence “is going to be a marathon event”.
The hurricane is also being followed by Tropical Storm Isaac, which formed in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.
“This storm is a monster,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters “It’s big and it’s vicious.
“It is an extremely dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane.”
"We're in the bullseye," says North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper about Hurricane Florence barreling towards the US east coast. "We want people to evacuate coastal areas. … This is historic. This storm is big and it's vicious" https://t.co/IIDyZsQgYF pic.twitter.com/4eEfhrwvX9
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) September 11, 2018
Where is Hurricane Florence expected to hit first?
Florence is expected hit the US coastline around Wilmington, North Carolina. The picturesque town is a popular location for television filming with shows like Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill being filmed there.
The National Weather Service in Newport, North Carolina said they were expecting “storm surge, extreme winds, possible tornadoes and exceptional amounts of rain, which will likely cause flash flooding and eventually serious river flooding.”
Rainfall of up to 75 cm (30 inches) is expected across the state. This would lead to disastrous flooding in major cities such as Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville.
7,000 National Guardsmen are ready to mobilise in the state and integrate into the North Carolina Emergency Management’s disaster response plan.
Heavy rainfall, strong rips, coastal flooding and beach erosion are all expected in South Carolina.
We’re tracking Hurricane Florence as it approaches the Southeastern US coast. More than 1 million people face mandatory evacuation as the massive storm aims to make landfall Thursday night.
— CNN (@CNN) September 11, 2018
Trump satisfied with his response to Hurricane Maria
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump raised eyebrows when he described his response to Hurricane Maria as “an incredible, unsung success”. “I actually think it’s one of the best jobs that’s ever been done,” he told reporters.
Maria struck Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the US, last year. It caused around 3,000 deaths and an island-wide communications blackout.
In response to Trump’s comments, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital tweeted: “If he thinks the death of 3,000 people is a success God help us all.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) September 11, 2018
Much of the relief efforts to Maria were outsourced, with often calamitous results. One contractor failed to provide millions of meals it was contracted to deliver to hurricane-affected areas.
The Trump administration’s response was widely criticised. Oxfam condemned it as a “slow and inadequate” effort in the face of the disaster.
Scott Paul from Oxfam America said “we know that there is money available if we ask for it because this country is blessed with an enormous wealth… What we haven’t seen is the political leadership to leverage that.”