Warnings, mass evacuations, and a state of emergency have been declared for several US states as Hurricane Florence approaches. It’s churning toward North and South Carolina’s coasts. High winds, storm surges, and major flooding are expected to impact millions.
CGTN’s Sean Callebs reports.
What makes this area so beautiful is also its great vulnerability: proximity to the water.
Residents in the path of Hurricane Florence are doing what they can to protect their businesses, homes – and their lives.
Gordon Reddick has been through this many times before; hurricanes with unrelenting wind, rain and flooding.
He has owned a surf shop on this barrier island for decades. Reddick is expecting a storm surge with Florence that could top out at around four meters.
But while preparing for the worst, he can only hope for the best. “Well, you know, this is something you put up with,” Reddick said. “It is a peaceful place to live, you know? Great people.”
But once Florence unleashes its fury it may lose its beauty.
From high above, it’s easy to see why the hurricane is so terrifying. Outer bands, extend out nearly 500 kilometers from the eye. Winds are topping out at close to 210 kilometers. So, even if the storm surge doesn’t destroy valuable beach front property – the punishing winds could.
Jerry Allen runs the last grocery store open on Wrightsville Beach. “Everybody comes in here and gets their last minute stuff,” he explained. “Like, we’re here now ’til the end.”
But the end is coming – fast.
North Carolina emergency officials are forcing a mandatory evacuation from a strip of a barrier island. But many people waited and waited, and are now being greeted by traffic jams.
Gas, food and water are in short supply on evacuation routes.
“We’re just loading up everything we can, getting our whole house in the U-Haul, and we’re heading in town,” said one evacuee.
“And as soon as they let us back on the island, we’re just going to try to get all the sand and water out as quick as possible so no mold and go from there.”
Before Hurricane Florence even makes landfall, US authorities are concerned it could become the most costly hurricane in the country’s history – considering the potential loss of livestock, crops, and personal property. They expect around one to three-million people to lose electricity.
Authorities are prepared to add up the damage in dollars and cents. What they don’t want to do is add up the cost in the loss of human lives.