As Hurricane Florence aims for the southeastern U.S. and threatens to intensify, mass evacuation orders have been issued in multiple states along the coast.
Mandatory evacuation orders have been given in the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland, forcing 1.5 million residents to flee the incoming storm, Fox News reported Tuesday.
Five military bases have also been evacuated, forcing tens of thousands of troops and their families to flee the storm’s path, Military.com reported.
— Gina Harkins (@GinaAHarkins) September 11, 2018
Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort, and Joint Base Charleston are the three South Carolina bases to undergo mandatory evacuation. Joint Base Langley-Eustis and Naval Air Station Oceana-Dam Neck Annex are two Virginia bases to be evacuated.
Additionally, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C. are permitted to evacuate voluntarily under liberty status.
Evacuation orders have disrupted training, graduation ceremonies, family events, and more. Base personnel are undergoing efforts to move sensitive equipment, such as aircraft, to safe locations.
At least five other military bases in the Carolinas and Virginia stand in the hurricane’s path, but have not been given evacuation orders. Those bases are: Shaw Air Force Base, Fort Jackson, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Fort Bragg, and Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story.
Experts have warned that if the storm continues to intensify in warm waters, its winds could increase to 155 mph, nearing category five status. It would be one of the strongest storms in recent decades to hit the Carolinas.
The storm is expected to make landfall on Thursday. If it slows once it hits land, catastrophic flooding could take place.
“It’s not just the coast,” said Ken Graham, National Hurricane Center director. “When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the center.”
Two feet of rainfall is already expected of the storm.
The National Weather Service advised, “Life-threatening freshwater flooding is likely from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event.”
President Trump secured an emergency order to authorize the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to cooperatively carry out disaster relief work for “the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population,” according to a White House statement.
Was just briefed via phone by @DHSgov @SecNielsen and @FEMA @FEMA_Brock, along with @VP Mike Pence and Chief of Staff, John Kelly on incoming storm which is very dangerous. Heed the directions of your State and Local Officials – and know that WE are here for you. Be SAFE! pic.twitter.com/sN8D5NvrBa
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018
The President also tweeted, “Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!” to afflicted residents.
The impact of Hurricane Florence is estimated to be similar to that of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Several thousand National Guard personnel are activated and awaiting orders, and thousands more remain on standby.