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Virginia, S.C. announce evacuations ahead of Hurricane Florence

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By Sommer Brokaw and Daniel Uria, UPI

Governors in Virginia and South Carolina declared evacuations on Monday as Hurricane Florence made its way toward the southeastern United States.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced mandatory evacuations for the lowest-lying areas of coastal Virginia and the Eastern Shore, effective 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Virginia's WHSV reported.

About 245,000 will be affected by the evacuations in preparation for the arrival of the Category 4 storm.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster also announced mandatory evacuations for coastal areas by noon on Tuesday. The evacuations are set to affect as many as one million people, as eight counties along the coast would be evacuated, South Carolina's The State reported.

"We know the evacuation order I'm issuing will be inconvenient," McMaster said. "But we're not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina."

The state will reverse lanes on portions of Interstate 26 and highways 278 and 21 on Tuesday and offices and schools will also close in 26 counties in the lower part of the state as part of the evacuation procedure, McMaster said.

On Sunday, McMaster announced he was preparing for the state to start feeling a "strong hit" from Hurricane Florence, starting Thursday.

"Landfall along coastal South Carolina is still a possibility," he said, adding that wind and rain from the storm will be felt over a large area. "Florence is expected to slow or even stall over the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic region for at least several days after making landfall and could result is significant flash flooding and eventually river flooding depending on the track."

South Carolina Adjutant General Robert Livingston said 3,000 state employees are being put in place to respond to the storm. Eight hundred National Guardsman have been activated.

McMaster also encouraged residents to make plans now with the presumption that it could hit the state.

Local officials in the Carolinas and Virginia also made preparations Monday for Hurricane Florence as it grew to a Category 4 storm.

The governors of North and South Carolina and Virginia have all declared states of emergency to free up resources in preparation for Florence.

"The forecast places North Carolina in the bull's eye of Hurricane Florence, and the storm is rapidly getting stronger," Gov. Roy Cooper said at a press conference Monday. "When weather forecasters tell us life threatening we know that it is serious."

Cooper added that the state faces three threats. First, the ocean surge along the coast, and then strong winds and inland flooding from heavy rains.

"We in North Carolina are bracing for a hard hit," Cooper said. "Today, let me be clear North Carolina is taking Hurricane Florence seriously and you should too. Get ready now."

On Monday, Cooper also asked President Donald Trump for a disaster declaration to get federal help as soon as possible.

Two-hundred North Carolina National Guard troops have been activated and other states are prepared to help the state with equipment, helicopters and water rescue teams.

Dare County, N.C., has begun evacuations and other coastal communities are expected to follow suit shortly.

State transportation services are getting ready to clear roads and volunteer organizations have already pledged to help provide food at the shelters, the governor said.

"Now is the time to review your emergency plans, not later, when this storm is on our doorstep," Cooper said.

With a couple days left to get ready, he urged people to figure out evacuation routes, clear yard debris that could cause damage in high winds and make plans to contact family and friends, especially elderly people.

In Virginia, state officials expect possible flooding, along with high winds and potential storm surge.

State agencies are working closely with local officials to identify any needs in advance of the storm and put resources in the places they are needed.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam urged residents to prepare for the storm, and reminded them to "turn around and don't drown," adding that it only takes 6 inches of water for a vehicle to get washed out.

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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: Virginia, S.C. announce evacuations ahead of Hurricane Florence
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