Ns News Online Desk: Hurricane Florence will pack a “Mike Tyson punch” when it slams into the Carolinas this week, according to FEMA chief Jeff Byard, who warned that Wednesday is the last good day to flee from the storm’s destructive path. For safety, Residents evacuate from coastal areas near Wallace, North Carolina.
“This is not going to be a glancing blow … this is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast,” the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said during a Wednesday morning briefing.“Today’s the day,” he said. “It’s time for our citizens to be a part of the team. Heed those warnings and evacuate if you’re in one of the zones.”
The monster storm, which is set to touch down Thursday evening, will bring with it torrential rains that could last through Sunday — possibly causing calamitous flooding. Experts said rain measured in feet is “looking likely.” Up to a foot is predicted in the Appalachian Mountains. Storm surges could reach 13 feet in some places.
“This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding,” forecasters said Wednesday. The storm will be so wet that a swath from South Carolina to Ohio and Pennsylvania could get deluged.
Early Wednesday, Florence’s path shifted slightly south, meaning it could reach parts of Georgia early next week. The storm was 530 miles from Cape Fear, NC, moving at 17 mph and still at a potentially catastrophic Category 4 at 130 mph Wednesday. It’s expected to draw energy from warm waters and strengthen to near a Category 5, meaning it would reach winds of 157 mph or higher.
President Trump declared states of emergency for the Carolinas and Virginia and all three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast.This will be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast,” the National Weather Service wrote in a Tuesday evening forecast.
Steady streams of vehicles rushed inland Tuesday, though some ignored North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s warnings and chose to stay behind, in the storm’s destructive path. “The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster,” Cooper warned.
People across the region loaded valuables in their cars and took off Tuesday — but finding fuel for their journey was tough. “This morning I drove around for an hour looking for gas in Cary. Everyone was sold out,” Mochelle Stober told the Associated Press. Even the Navy moved some people and ships out of local bases ahead of the storm and the Air Force and Army flew advanced aircraft to safer ground.