“Monster” Hurricane Florence aims to drench Carolinas

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These are the 5 things forecasters are most worried about with Hurricane Florence
Global News Chief Meteorologist Anthony Farnell is in Wilmington, N.C. where he's updating the latest on Florence, where its expected trajectory has changed, slowing the speed of its movement.

Officials are urging those who still intend to try to ride out Hurricane Florence to pack up and leave. While the Category 4 hurricane is expected to slam into the Carolinas later this week and then linger, its not just the wind speeds people need to worry about.

As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. Airlines had cancelled nearly 1,000 flights and counting. Home Depot and Lowes activated emergency response centres to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

Video: See aerial footage of the Hurricane Florence evacuation

Forecasters are predicting catastrophic flooding and devastating storm surges, a term used to describe the abnormal increase in water that results when wind and pressure mix, forcing water onto land.

This GOES-15 satellite image taken Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, at 10 a.m. EDT, and provided by NOAA, shows Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic Ocean as it threatens the U.S. East Coast. The Canadian government and several airlines have issued travel advisories because of hurricanes and tropical storms churning towards the U.S. east coast, Caribbean and Hawaii. (NOAA via AP)

TD Bank closes 16 branches in the Carolinas as Florence approaches

READ MORE: Hurricane Florence is ‘very dangerous,’ but don’t expect everyone to evacuate

Forecasters worried the storms damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. The trend is "exceptionally bad news," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge."

This one really scares me, said National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham. Its one of those situations where youre going to get heavy rain, catastrophic, life-threatening storm surge, and also the winds.

Computer models of exactly what the storm might do varied, adding to the uncertainty. In contrast to the hurricane centres official projection, a highly regarded European model had the storm turning southward off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina line.

What homeowners bracing for Hurricane Florence can do now to prepare for insurance claims

Storm surge warnings are in effect for a number of areas where the water could easily reach 10 feet above land, explained Athena Masson, a meteorologist and hurricane specialist currently based in Canada. People can get overly fixated on the storms category level, she said, but at the end of the day, thats just wind.

If youre stocking up on supplies or planning your evacuation as you hurricane-proof your home, it can be worth taking a few minutes to consider the insurance aspect of recovery. Last years three monster storms — Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria — caused $265 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Wind is just one very small, minute area that we worry about but the storm surge can easily stretch, Masson said. This is one of those events that you should not stay for no matter what.

The idea is to have proof not only of what you own, but also what kind of shape it was in before the storm. If you cant prove the prior condition of, say, your now-missing side door, it could cause snags or denials in the claims process if the insurance company has reason to question whether it was maintained properly.

Storm surges are, per the National Hurricane Center, often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane.

“Take photos from every corner of the room and capture the condition of the floor, the walls and ceiling,” said Odess, who, as a public adjuster, helps homeowners and businesses navigate the claims process. “Walk around the outside of the house to get all angles, and then take photos of the area around the house.”

Video: Governor Roy Cooper: Residents Not Evacuating Are Putting Lives At Risk | TODAY

READ MORE: Hurricane Florence downgraded to Category 3 but still ‘extremely dangerous,’ officials say

Packing sustained winds of 130 mph as of Wednesday, its expected to cause life-threatening storm surges and dump torrential rain on both coastal and inland areas. Once it moves over land, it is expected to stall — which means flooding will be a major threat across a broad swath of the region.

Florence could flood homes with waste from manure pits, ash dumps

The Center uses the high death toll from Hurricane Katrina as an example of how deadly the surge can be. At least 1,500 people were killed directly, or indirectly, during the 2005 hurricane from a surge.

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Monster Hurricane Florence nears Carolina coast

What many people dont seem to realize, Masson said, is that studies have shown more than half of deaths resulting from hurricanes come from storm surges while less than 10 per cent are attributed to wind.

Thats a huge gap, she said. A hurricane is not just a windstorm. If anything, the wind is just a very small component.

Forecasters said Florence was expected to blow ashore and then slow down and dump 30 to 60 centimetres of rain through at least Sunday, which could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms. There are predictions of up to 30 centimetres in places in the Appalachian mountains.

If you need help visualizing it, Masson recommended you think of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated parts of Texas last year. Hurricane Florence is showing a similar size and intensity to Harvey, she said. Now think of the photos of Texas houses completely submerged.

Residents told to get out now as Florence takes aim at Carolinas

READ MORE: Hurricane Florence could soon morph into Category 5 storm — but what about Category 6?

Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington; Jonathan Drew in Wilmington, North Carolina; Jennifer Kay in Miami; Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina; Sarah Rankin and Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Skip Foreman in Charlotte, North Carolina; Jeff Martin in Hampton, Georgia; David Koenig in Dallas; and Jay Reeves in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Houses, property, everything was sucked out to sea, Masson said, and inland didnt fare much better.

Structures were completely taken off their foundation and pushed inland, she said. Most houses are not built at least 10 feet off the ground.

Forecasters worried the storms damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast. The trend is "exceptionally bad news," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge."

Dont stay, Masson urged. She, herself, has lived through Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Wilma.

In addition to storm surge warnings, forecasters say Hurricane Florence could dump between one and two-and-a-half feet of rain. Theyre expecting catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding.

Hurricane Florence: What to expect from the monster of a storm headed for the U.S. east coast

Even those states further from the eye of the storm are bracing for flooding. Although the National Hurricane Center was predicting between 15 and 25 inches of rain, up to 35 inches in select areas, a computer simulation that accurately predicted Hurricane Harvey rain levels is predicting it will hit 45 inches.

Danny and Doris Galli cart items from their boat docked at New Bern Grand Marina on the Trent River in New Bern, N.C, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. Boat owners are preparing for expected storm surges as Hurricane Florence approaches eastern North Carolina. (Gray Whitley/Sun Journal via AP)

Video: Carolinas preparing for Hurricane Florence

“This one is different,” North Carolinas Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents, Dont bet your life on riding out a monster.

Sep 12, 2018 TD Bank closes 16 branches in the Carolinas as Florence approaches Nicole Gibillini, BNN Bloomberg

Signage is displayed outside a Toronto-Dominion (TD) Canada Trust bank branch in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Monday, Aug. 28 2017. , Ben Nelms/Bloomberg

In this Sept. 24, 1999, file photo, employees of Murphy Family Farms along with friends and neighbors, float a group of dead pigs down a flooded road on Rabon Mareadys farm near Beulaville, N.C. The hogs drowned from the floodwaters of the NE Cape Fear River after heavy rains from Hurricane Floyd flooded the area. The heavy rain expected from Hurricane Florence could flood hog manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites in North Carolina, creating a noxious witches’ brew of waste that might wash into homes and threaten drinking water supplies. (AP Photo/Alan Marler, File)

Toronto-Dominion Bank has temporarily closed some of its locations in the Carolinas as Hurricane Florence approaches the U.S. east coast.

The bank confirmed in a statement to BNN Bloomberg it has closed 14 of 61 branches in South Carolina and two of its 14 locations in North Carolina as of noon Tuesday.

Duke Energy did not respond to requests for information about specific changes made at Brunswick, other than to say emergency generators and pumps will remove stormwater at the plant if it floods. The company issued assurances this week that it is ready for Florence, which is predicted to pack winds of up to 140 miles per hour and a 13-foot storm surge.

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We will reopen these stores once we complete our post-hurricane assessment and determine that its safe for our employees and customers to return, the statement read.

At this time, our other stores in the Carolinas will remain open for normal business hours. The safety of our employees and customers is our top priority.

The Category 4 storm is expected to make landfall in the Carolinas tomorrow or Friday, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

As of Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. Airlines had cancelled nearly 1,000 flights and counting. Home Depot and Lowes activated emergency response centres to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

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TD said it will continue to monitor the path and severity of the hurricane and keep their employees informed.  The bank also said it plans to offer assistance programs to employees and customers impacted by the storm.