Hurricane Florence Expected to Cause at Least $27 Billion in Damages

Michele Stevens
September 15, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed declarations of emergency for both North Carolina and SC, freeing up federal money and resources for storm response.

Bloomberg reported September 11 that due to Hurricane Florence's threat to the hog-heavy Carolina region October hog futures jumped as much as 2.9 percent on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Monday. He said the federal government is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence. Millions were expected to lose power, perhaps for weeks. Rainfall could reach 40 inches in isolated locations of coastal North Carolina. Tuesday's forecast showed 20in or more falling there, part of a wide stretch of rainfall that could total 10in or more over much of Virginia and drench the nation's capital.

"The levels are in pretty good shape to handle the rain, but it all depends on how much rain we get", Ashby said.

If it makes landfall as predicted, Florence could become the northernmost Category 4 hurricane to hit the US since records were first kept in 1851. By Monday, it was evident that the worst-case-scenario was becoming reality, as Florence exploded in strength from a Category 2 hurricane to a Category 4 storm with winds in excess of 130 miles per hour. But perhaps the most unsafe part of the storm is its future speed.

The storm's first effects were already apparent on barrier islands as unsafe rip currents hit beaches and seawater flowed over a state highway - the harbinger of a storm surge that could wipe out dunes and submerge entire communities.

"To the incredible citizens of North Carolina, South Carolina and the entire East Coast - the storm looks very bad!"

Volvo has temporarily halted production at its SC factory as Hurricane Florence approaches the southeast coast.

"We face three critical threats from Florence: ocean surge along our coast, strong winds, and inland flooding from heavy rain", Governor Cooper said. He declared states of emergency for North and SC, which frees up help from federal agencies.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service is providing regional-specific briefings on the expected impacts of Hurricane Florence. It's now predicted to make landfall somewhere north of Wilmington, N.C., before its center heads inland toward the cities of Raleigh and Durham.

Airlines including American, Southwest, Delta and JetBlue are letting affected passengers change travel plans without the usual fees.

Hurricane Florence's potential for destruction also includes increased risks for the environment and public health as torrential rains could overwhelm the pits where toxic waste from power plants is stored. Tropical storm-force winds would extend almost 300 km across three states. Miles of traffic slowed to a crawl along the main highway along North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands.

North Carolina has waived transportation rules to help farmers move crops and livestock ahead of the most severe storm to threaten the USA mainland this year.

Hurricane Isaac is expected to lose strength as it reaches the Caribbean, and Helene, much farther out to sea, may veer northwards into the open ocean as the 2018 hurricane season reaches its peak.

In the Pacific, Olivia became a tropical storm again on a path to hit Hawaiian islands early on Wednesday.

"We must take it very seriously", South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said at a Tuesday news conference.

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