The path of Hurricane Florence suddenly changed overnight and promises to bring even more devastation than was predicted to the Carolinas and parts of Georgia, with a storm the size of Michigan that will last for days and cause catastrophic floods with up to four feet of rain and 13 – storm of storm peaks.
Florence remained a dangerous Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday morning, after slowing slightly to 130 mph overnight and is expected to stagnate further before crawling along the East Coast of the US. UU And move inland before the weekend.
The new trajectory means that the storm will remain inactive at sea for longer, creating even more intense and prolonged rains and storm surges for the Carolinas and possibly in northern Georgia.
At least 25 million residents are at risk from the storm and experts predict that their current path could cause damages up to $ 170,000 million, affect up to 759,000 homes and businesses and become the most expensive storm that has ever hit I know. UU
Hurricane-force winds will hit the coasts of Carolina late Thursday or early Friday and more than 1.7 million people are warned to evacuate and get out of the path of the life-threatening storm.
& # 39; This storm is a monster. It is big and it is vicious. It is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening historical hurricane, "said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper." The waves and the wind that this storm can bring is not like anything you've seen. "Even if you've passed. Storms before, this is different, do not bet your life to ride a monster.
The storm was already creating waves of 83 feet at sea on Wednesday and roads on some of Carolina's islands were already flooded making evacuations more difficult.
Rain predictions are expected to be higher due to weaker wind speeds and parts of North Carolina are preparing for more than 40 inches of rain, which is similar to the catastrophic flood caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston the year past.
More than 650 flights to and from the region were canceled at 10 a.m. ET this Wednesday and thousands of people suffered delays. The Charleston International Airport, the busiest in the region, expects to close on Thursday and not resume until Saturday at least.
Amtrak has also cut service to the region without trains going to Virginia and stops south of D.C. see you Monday.
Hurricane Florence will likely be the "storm of your life" after a slight change in the road which means that the potential rain and swells will be worse than predicted with up to four feet of rain hitting portions of the Carolina coast
The storm has triggered massive evacuations with up to 1.7 million people warned to seek refuge from the catastrophic storm, while five million are under direct hurricane warning.
"This will probably be the storm of your life in parts of the Carolina coast," said the National Weather Service.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said the greatest danger was storm surge: a wall of seawater that could reach 13 feet in height.
"The storm surge has the greatest potential to kill as many people as possible," FEMA administrator Brock Long told CNN. "It also has the greatest potential to cause the greatest destruction."
FEMA said Florence is the strongest storm that hit the Carolinas and Virginia region in decades & # 39;
"This storm is going to end the days of power in weeks, it's going to destroy the infrastructure, it's going to destroy homes," said Jeff Byard, an official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We can not emphasize the importance for our citizens who are in evacuations of paying attention to local and state warnings, this storm will have the potential to cause the loss of lives and we can not emphasize the importance of taking action now."
On Tuesday, motorists moved inland on freeways turned into one-way routes and supermarket shelves were left unprotected when more than a million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia were ordered to flee their homes. houses while the hurricane crosses the Atlantic Ocean towards the coast.
At 5 a. M. On Wednesday, the storm centered 575 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and shifted to 17 mph.
Florence remained a Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday morning and is expected to stagnate before crawling along the East Coast of the US. UU And move inland before the weekend. Photo courtesy of NBC
Meteorologists and politicians pleaded with the public to take the warnings seriously and did not notice in words when describing the threat of what could become one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the eastern seaboard in decades.
President Donald Trump has declared states of emergency for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, saying that the government of the United States is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence.
The governor of South Carolina Henry McMaster, who issued a mandatory medical evacuation of 177 hospitals and medical centers in his state, said: "We know that the evacuation order I am issuing will be inconvenient.
"But we will not play with the lives of the people of South Carolina." Not one. & # 39;
Pig farmers along the east coast struggled to drain their pools before the storm. Pig farms have open "lagoons" full of manure, which turn pink due to the bacteria that rot in the lagoons.
If the rivers break their banks, or the lagoons overflow, affecting the local waterways, which could damage the local environment and endanger the sources of drinking water and public health.
Floods could also kill thousands of animals if they can not be evacuated in time.
Marlowe Vaughan of Ivy Spring Creek Farm in Goldsboro, has spent most of the day pumping liquid waste from its lagoons to make more space for incoming rain.
"We try to pump everything we can, but after that, it's in the hands of God, we're at the mercy of the storm."
People throughout the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board their homes or leave the city
Walmart bread hall is empty two days before Hurricane Florence is expected to hit Wilmington, North Carolina
A Redix grocery store is boarded up, two days before hurricane Florence is expected to hit Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
More than 1.5 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes in preparation. Vehicles lined with heavy traffic (up) in Wallace, North Carolina on Tuesday
Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier said operators would begin shutting down nuclear plants at least two hours before the hurricane winds hit.
Despite the evacuation order, the South Carolina Department of Corrections decided not to remove the inmates at the Ridgeland Correctional Institution.
SCDC spokesman Dexter Lee said: "In the past, it has been safer to leave them there."
Several interstate highways will be closed as of Wednesday, as will state offices, including the University of South Carolina, and schools in 26 counties in the eastern part of the state. Some schools will be used as evacuation shelters, officials said Monday.
"We do not want children at school to be in danger," McMaster told The State. We know that you will reach a place where you will have a dramatic impact in South Carolina. We're going to get a lot of water that we have not seen at some time. "
McMaster previously issued a mandatory medical evacuation of 177 hospitals and medical facilities, including nursing homes, in the eight coastal counties.
North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have ordered massive evacuations along the coast after declaring states of emergency.
Virginia issued a mandatory evacuation order for about 245,000 residents in coastal areas prone to flooding from 8 a. M.
At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the North Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost barrier island in the state.
Getting out of danger could be difficult and officials are already predicting that the financial cost could reach $ 170 billion, according to CoreLogic.
Dorothy Pope, 78, and sister Clydie Gardner, 71, settle into the house they share in Princeville, North Carolina, after a normal grocery shopping on Tuesday. They are watching the storm but have no plans to leave unless they are threatened by the floods
Chuck Ledford (L), watches Looney-Tunes with his daughter Misty as they evacuate before the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Florence while seeking refuge at Emma B. Trask Middle School in Wilmington,
At least 25 million residents on the East Coast are at risk from Hurricane Florence, which is expected to deliver a "direct hit". this week
Sandbags sit on the doors as water floods out of the buildings in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia on September 11
People cross the street as water floods out of buildings in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, on September 11, where more than one million people were under evacuation orders in the eastern United States on Tuesday.
Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm wave was being pushed 300 miles in front of her eye, and so wet that a swath of states from South Carolina to Ohio and Pennsylvania could be flooded.
People throughout the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board their homes or leave the city.
A line of heavy traffic moved away from the coast on Interstate 40, the main route between the port city of Wilmington and the interior of Raleigh.
Between the two cities, with an interval of approximately two hours, the traffic flowed smoothly in some places and was paralyzed in others due to the mudguards.
Only a trickle of vehicles was going in the opposite direction, including trucks carrying plywood and other construction materials. Service stations began to run out of fuel to the west of Raleigh, with bright yellow bags, signs or rags placed on the pumps to show they were out of service.
Florence could hit the Carolinas stronger than any hurricane since Hazel packed 130 mph winds in 1954. That Category 4 storm destroyed 15,000 buildings and 19 people in North Carolina. In the six decades since then, thousands of people have moved to the coast.
A service station in Mt. Pleasant S.C alerts the motorist who has run out of gas due to the high demand caused by hurricane Florence
Tarek Elshik, on the left, fills cans of gasoline to power a generator that cools insulin for the treatment of type 1 diabetes in 10-year-old daughter Yasmeen Elshik, in the event of a power failure during Hurricane Florence
Food Lion employee, Greg Partin, helps a customer get into his car on Monday, September 10, 2018 at the Woodcroft Mall in Durham, N.C.
Wooden boards and cardboard boxes block the entrance to a Walmart store in Kill Devil Hills on the North Carolina Outer Banks on September 11
A man uses a drill to install storm shutters in a house in Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on September 11
The first effects of the storm were already evident in the barrier islands when the dangerous currents of surf hit the beaches and the sea water flows on a state highway, the precursor of a storm surge that could devastate the dunes and submerge entire communities.
Authorities warned of waves of life-threatening coastal storms and the possibility of Florence triggering prolonged torrential rains and widespread flooding, especially if it stays inside for several days.
The director of the National Hurricane Center, Ken Graham, warned of "staggering" amounts of rain that can extend hundreds of miles inland and cause flash floods in the mid-Atlantic region.
"This really scares me," Graham said.
The US Army UU He said he would send advanced equipment to Raleigh, North Carolina, to coordinate with federal and state partners. The US Navy UU He also ordered that 30 warships go out to sea from their port at the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia.
Airlines, including American, Southwest, Delta and JetBlue, have begun allowing affected passengers to change their travel plans without the usual rates.
American and Southwest Airlines were among the carriers that canceled flights to and from the hurricane zone as of Wednesday. About 624 flights were canceled within the United States on Wednesday. The Charleston International Airport in South Carolina tweeted that it hoped to close the runway before midnight on Wednesday.
Amtrak trains are also canceled or are subject to schedule modifications from Wednesday to Sunday. The company is also waiving charges for reserve changes.
Coast residents fleeing a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence found empty gas pumps and depleted store shelves as the monstrous storm approached the coast of Carolina.
While some said they planned to stay, despite the hurricane warnings and alerts that included the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast, many were not at risk.
Allison Violette, a resident of Fayetteville, North Carolina, told NBC that she and her husband were moving all their belongings to the second floor of their home in preparation for the hurricane.
She said they had learned the lesson after Hurricane Matthew flooded the house in 2016.
"It's devastating to go into your house and see it flooded and lose everything, and to think that it can happen again, just not, I just do not want to have that, and then, whatever I can keep that is meaningful to us, I want to keep it." He said.
& # 39; I do not know if we would want to do that again, and experience it. It's just a change of life, "said her husband Cal Violette.
Liz Browning Fox, 65, plans to pass the storm in the village of Outer Banks, Buxton, North Carolina, despite the mandatory evacuation order. Her 88-year-old mother refused to evacuate and will stay with her.
"Everyone who stays here is a real veteran, someone who does not know where he would be better or someone involved in emergency operations in one way or another," Fox said.
Michelle Stober loaded valuables on Tuesday at her home in Wrightsville Beach to return to her main residence in Cary, North Carolina. Finding fuel for the trip was difficult.
"This morning I drove for an hour looking for gas in Cary, everyone was exhausted," he said.
Larry Lynch selects a can of Armor Vienna Bites while shopping in preparation for Hurricane Florence on Tuesday
Irene McNeil selects canned vegetables while shopping in preparation for Hurricane Florence
An auto parts store has wooden panels installed over the windows in New Bern, North Carolina on Tuesday
Ashley DeGroote and her husband Jeff DeGroote remove the awning at the South End Surf Shop in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, in preparation for Hurricane Florence
Just a few months ago, disaster planners simulated a category 4 hurricane attack alarmingly similar to the real-world scenario that now unfolds on a dangerously vulnerable stretch of the east coast.
A & # 39; Hurricane Cora & # 39; fictitious arrived in southeastern Virginia and climbed the Chesapeake Bay to attack Washington, DC, in the narrative created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Argonne National Laboratory.
The result was catastrophic damage, which has worried some experts that Hurricane Florence could produce a disaster comparable to that of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and in a part of the country that is famous for its difficult evacuation.
The simulated hurricane knocked out power for most service stations in the Mid-Atlantic region, damaged a nuclear power plant and sent waste to major shipping channels, among other problems, according to a Department of Energy simulation manual .
"What they were trying to do was create the worst possible scenario, but it's a very realistic scenario," said Joshua Behr, a research professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia, who is involved in simulations and disaster models.
Senior White House leaders, along with more than 91 federal departments and agencies, participated in the "nationwide exercise" in late April and early May, FEMA said.
The fictitious storm made landfall in the densely populated region of Hampton Roads, causing a swell of 15 feet and up to 9 inches of rain in some areas within the first six hours. That cut off the main routes, used both for escape and for rescuers, in the Hampton Roads area and elsewhere.
On stage, Cora also crashed winds with hurricane force at three nuclear power plants. One was damaged. Thirty-three main electrical substations were at risk due to storm surges and major floods.
Roads and key bridges were also damaged, and debris blocked the Newport News Channel and other waterways. The Cape Charles Coast Guard station lost power and the Chincoteague Coast Guard station was severely damaged by strong winds. The fierce fictitious storm also damaged and closed the Reagan National Airport in Washington.
The fake hurricane threatened hundreds of cell towers, and the area where the power was cut included 135 data centers in Virginia and another 60 in Maryland.
Cora's scenario projects hurricane-force winds that inflict "catastrophic damage" to homes and significant damage to critical infrastructure within a 50-mile radius of the center of the hurricane.
The manual does not mention deaths and injuries, focusing instead on infrastructure.