The National Weather Servicesaid 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches. Lennon, the chair of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Department at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, says the biggest mistake during Hurricane Katrina - which claimed 1,833 lives - was that officials only ordered evacuations 24 hours before it hit New Orleans in 2005, and by then it was too late.
He warned residents to take precautions "because once this storm is upon us, we're not going to be able to send emergency personnel out to rescue you". It is about 435 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.
McMaster ordered mandatory evacuation of coastal SC counties on Tuesday.
While some of the computer forecasting models conflicted, the latest projections more or less showed the storm shifting southward and westward in a way that suddenly put more of SC in danger and imperilled Georgia, too. The last Category 4 hurricane to plow directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people and destroyed some 15,000 homes.
Meanwhile the hurricane is forecast to dump one to two foot of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and farms.
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A graphic of Hurricane Florence's path, generated today (Sept. 12) at 2 p.m. ET by the National Hurricane Center, shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). Residents have been urged to be prepared.
"And that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew", the organization said in a statement that was circulated on Twitter. Many gasoline stations were running low on fuel.
As of Tuesday, about 1.7 million people in North and SC and Virginia were under warnings to evacuate the coast, and hurricane watches and warnings extended across an area with about 5.4 million residents. "What is flooding going to do to our home, our city?"
"When people face the decision to leave their homes or stay and fight the storm, having the option to safely store their belongings can make that decision easier", Mack said.
"Where alse can we go?" State officials have said the inmates are safer in the prison than they would be in an evacuation.
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