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