As Hurricane Florence moves closer to the Carolinas, area residents are preparing for what is likely to be one of the strongest storms to hit the region in decades, the New York Times reports.
With winds clocking in at 130 miles per hour on Wednesday, Florence is expected to make landfall early Saturday near the South Carolina-North Carolina border, with life-threatening storm surge "highly likely" from Georgia all the way north to Virginia. As of Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center was predicting that the storm would stall as it neared land and turn south toward and eventually move inland across South Carolina. "It is important for users to realize that significant impacts extend well away from the center of Florence, and serious hazards such as a dangerous storm surge and flooding rains will cover a large area regardless of exactly where the center moves," the center warned.
While it is too early for disaster-relief groups to assess what the needs will be or how they may be able to help, Direct Relief has offered coordination support to more than two hundred healthcare partners in the storm's path. In addition, companies and nonprofits in Georgia have been preparing for Florence evacuees, with the Atlanta Motor Speedway planning to open its camping facilities and mosques associated with the Islamic Circle of North America readying their places of worship, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. Sherry Nicholson, the regional communication director for the American Red Cross of Georgia, told AJC that volunteers are on standby and that the organization has already moved toiletries, cots, blankets, and other supplies to staging areas closer to where the storm is expected to make landfall.
"This is not going to be a glancing blow," said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "This is not going to be one of those storms that hit and move out to sea. This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast."
(Photo credit: Lara Cooper)