Hurricane Florence, on track to become the first Category 4 storm to make a direct impact on North Carolina in six decades, howled near the coast on Tuesday, threatening to unleash deadly waves, days of torrential rain and severe flooding.
It is expected that fierce winds and massive waves will hit the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia even before it reaches land on Friday, and that the rains will affect thousands of kilometers inland, warned the National Hurricane Center. Miami
Although there are still days before Florence arrives, the authorities took extraordinary measures to get people out of danger. More than 1 million residents were ordered to evacuate the coastal areas of the three states, closing university campuses, schools and factories.
With maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour (225 km per hour), the storm was classified as Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and was expected to grow more and more in the coming days, the NHC said. .
"This storm is a monster," said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. "Even if you've had storms before, this is different." Do not bet your life to ride a monster. "
He cited forecasts that show that Florence is likely to stagnate in North Carolina, "bringing days and days of rain."
To expedite the evacuations of the coast of South Carolina, officials reversed the flow of traffic on some roads, so all major roads moved away from the coast. Kilometers of traffic slowly decreased along the main road along the barrier islands of the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
The maps of the trajectory of Florence showed that the center of the storm would probably hit the south coast of North Carolina. The last Category 4 hurricane to be plowed directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people and destroyed some 15,000 homes.
But the NHC spokesman, Dennis Feltgen, emphasized that the effects of Florence would be felt widely. The tropical storm force winds would extend about 300 miles in three states. A hurricane warning was placed on most of the Carolina coast north of the Virginia border.
In addition to flooding the coast with wind storms of up to 13 feet (4 m), Florence could pull 15 to 25 inches (38 to 64 cm) of rain, with up to 35 inches (89 cm) in some places, forecasters said. .
Possible long-term blackouts
Communities on Florence's road could be without electricity for weeks due to downed power lines and flooded equipment, said the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Brock Long.
Utilities deployed crews and equipment in advance, according to the commercial group, the Edison Electric Institute. Workers from at least 15 states were heading to the region to help with what could be a long effort to restore energy.
The teams also prepared 16 nuclear reactors in the three-state region for the storm.
A power station, the Brunswick plant of Duke Energy Corp, the closest to the area where the landing is forecast, faced possible closure as a precaution. Stops were also possible on two more floors in the path of predicted hurricane force winds.
The American Red Cross said more than 700 workers went to the target area while shelters were opened to house those who could not evacuate. A hospital in Hampton, Virginia, was transferring patients to safer places.
US President Donald Trump signed emergency declarations on Tuesday for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, releasing federal resources for response to the storm.
"We do not save any expense." We are fully prepared, "Trump said at the White House.
Trump faced severe criticism for his administration's response to Hurricane Maria last year in Puerto Rico. Some 3,000 people died in the wake of the storm.
Days before his arrival, Florence was already interrupting commercial operations.
Boeing Co suspended work on Tuesday at the South Carolina plant where it assembles 787 wide-body aircraft, and a Volvo car plant in the South Carolina evacuation zone also closed, company officials said.
Smithfield Foods Inc said it would shut down the world's largest slaughter facility in Tar Heel, North Carolina, on Thursday and Friday due to the hurricane.
Residents prepare themselves by going aboard their homes and stock up on food, water and other essential items, stripping many grocery stores. Some gas stations also ran out of fuel.
Not everyone was in a hurry to leave. Charles Mullen, 81, a long-time resident in Hatteras Island, North Carolina, said he had come through many storms and that most locals planned to stay unless Florence pointed to Hatteras.