Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Sci-tech | By Spencer Schmidt

Hurricane Florence's uncertain track sows fear; 10 million in crosshairs

Hurricane Florence's uncertain track sows fear; 10 million in crosshairs

Dealers are parking cars in service bays for refuge.

Duke Energy warned that Florence could cut off power to anywhere from 1 million to 3 million customers in North and SC, potentially leaving them without electricity for several weeks, said spokeswoman Grace Rountree.

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm but is still considered an extremely unsafe and life-threatening storm, U.S. officials said.

In Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 people on North Carolina's Atlantic coastline along the Cape Fear River that is home to historic mansions and even a decommissioned World War Two-era battleship, streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris.

He also said people should remove locator beacons from their boats so the Coast Guard isn't chasing false distress signals if the beacon falls off the boat during the storm. The center of the storm will likely land between Brownsville and Rockport.

About 1.7 million people have already been told to leave their homes in the latter three states, but some who thought they were safely out of the path of the storm are now desperately working to board up their homes and businesses before its arrival.

The only route off North Carolina's Hatteras Island closed Thursday as Hurricane Florence approached. FEMA, for its part, admitted it fell short in its Maria response but said it's ready this time around.

It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation? South Carolina AD Ray Tanner and I communicated all week in hopes that we could play, but in the end, not playing is the safest option for all concerned. The agency is in constant contact with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.

Follow our live updates page for the latest on the storm. But the damage to energy facilities is likely to be far milder than the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey, which previous year battered Houston, the heart of the USA energy industry. Roper St. Francis spokesman Brian DeRoy said all of their major facilities will be open during the storm, but they ask patients with procedures scheduled to call and confirm.

Amtrak canceled its passenger rail service south of Washington, D.C., and there were almost 600 cancellations of flights arriving or departing from major airports in the Carolinas.

The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm.

A spokeswoman for Love's Travel Stops says demand for gasoline has doubled at numerous company's truck-stop locations in the path of Hurricane Florence. "It's a big one", he said. Workers at Florence Toyota in Florence, South Carolina, plan to pull high-value luxury vehicles into the service bays on Thursday to protect them. Tropical storm watches extend as far north as Norfolk, Virginia.

Small said the precautions have worked in previous hurricanes, but he said he remained wary of the flooding potential from the storm with the same name as his town.

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