Entire communities in South Carolina have been evacuated as the region braces for Hurricane Florence, anticipated to be the fiercest storm to hit the coast in decades.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on September 11, 2018

Both North Carolina and Virginia have also declared states of emergency as the category four storm approaches.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina said “We do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane,” at a news conference Monday afternoon. He estimated more than 1 million people would have to evacuate the eight coastal counties to inland areas.

Huricane Florence could devastate the East Coast

There are fears that the storm will cause flash flooding and mudslides and potentially damage the six nuclear power plants and open air lagoons in the region.

Two major divided highways in the area, Interstate 26 and U.S. 501, were turned into one-way roads to facilitate the mass evacuation.

Schools in 26 of the state’s 46 counties shut down on Tuesday 11 August.

The storm is moving with 195 km/h (130 mph) winds and is gaining strength. It is currently around 2,000km southeast of Cape Fear and meteorologists predict it will hit the coast on Thursday 13 August.

The last time a category four storm hit the area was in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo caused 49 deaths and caused more than US$7 billion in damage when it struck North Carolina.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says it could be an “extremely dangerous” hurricane. It could even reach category five strength before it hits coastal and inland regions.

“The bottom line is that there is high confidence that Florence will be a large and extremely dangerous hurricane, regardless of its exact intensity,” the NHC said.

Trump’s response to Hurricane Florence

Donald Trump was criticised for his slow response to Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico in 2017, but moved quickly to reassure residents of the Carolinas he is prepared for this looming storm.

“To the incredible citizens of North Carolina, South Carolina and the entire East Coast – the storm looks very bad!,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Please take all necessary precautions. We have already began mobilizing our assets to respond accordingly, and we are here for you!”

In a later tweet, Trump wrote that he had been told it was one of the worst storms in recent years. “Looking like a direct hit on North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia,” he wrote.

“Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!”

Trump has been briefed on the situation by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. The Federal Government is standing by to offer assistance.