Utilities in Florence's path prepare for outages, massive restoration costs

Hurricane Florence

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Florence twice Monday, saying the storm will continue to strengthen as it targets the Carolinas later this week.

As for a hit on the US mainland, the most recent Cat 4 at landfall was Hurricane Harvey a year ago, which hit Texas with winds of 130 miles per hour. Forecasters said Florence could become an extremely unsafe major hurricane sometime Monday and remain that way for days.

States of emergency have been declared in North and SC as well as Virginia in readiness for Florence.

The storm's first effects were already apparent on barrier islands as unsafe rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over a state highway.

"North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously, and you should, too", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said at a press conference.

Hurricane Florence is a Category 4 storm that is moving across the Atlantic and headed for the East Coast of the United States.

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If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could carry torrential rains up into the Appalachian mountains, causing flash floods, mudslides and other risky weather across a wide area.

"This is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years", President Donald Trump warned on Twitter.

S.C. Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry, tweeted Monday afternoon that McMaster had told legislators he would order evacuations for the coast beginning at noon Tuesday.

A slow-moving or stalled storm would also prolong coastal flooding and high wind concerns and may cause significant beach erosion along part of the Southeast and lower mid-Atlantic coasts.

"This one is hard", she said, having been through hurricane damage before. Still, because the ground is already so saturated from large amounts of rain the last couple of months, trees are extra vulnerable to toppling, even in less intense winds, he says.

Fayetteville State University issued a voluntary evacuation directive for its residence halls at 8 a.m. Monday, according to a statement released by the university. This is a very serious storm, one of the biggest storms we've seen in quite some time.

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The storm's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 193km/h, before Florence was downgraded from a Category 4. Up to 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate across South Carolina , North Carolina and Virginia.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office predicted "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages", cautioning that the deadliest risk would come from flooding.

Hurricane Florence is likely to strengthen to a Category 5 storm as it approaches the U.S. where 1.7 million people have been warned to get out of the way.

Quagliariello emphasized the impact of the hurricane, including tropical storm-force winds, could extend more than 100 miles from the storm's center.

In announcing his evacuation order, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said an estimated 1 million people would be fleeing the coast.

"I highly encourage people to move out of the county", Brunswick Emergency Management Director Brian Watts said.

The airline issued a travel alert for 23 airports in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia due to Hurricane Florence. People rushed to get emergency kits ready, map out escape routes, fill sandbags and secure their homes.

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