Hurricane Florence evacuations expand, with 'disaster at doorstep'

Amazon again puts disaster relief efforts in motion as Hurricane Florence set to punish Carolina coast

Evacuations were imposed for parts of three East Coast states Tuesday as millions of Americans prepared for what could become one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades.

At 8:00 pm (0000 GMT), the eye of the storm was 335 miles (540 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 2 storm but it is still considered an extremely risky and life-threatening storm. But authorities warn Florence has an enormous wind field as it zeroes in on the Southeast U.S. coast, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely risky.

People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways Wednesday as Florence bore down on the coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.

Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall bringing a storm surge as much as 13 feet (4 meters), the National Hurricane Center in Miami warned. "The biggest hazard that we're anxious about is storm surge", Long said.

"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Tropical Storm Florence continues its churn toward US coast
Right now, swells associated by Florence are battering Bermuda and the rough surf will reach the east coast during the weekend. Helene is moving toward the west near 13 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds near 45 miles per hour .

"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said.

The center of the massive storm is forecast to meander Thursday, Friday and Saturday over a stretch of coastline saturated by rising seas, inundating several states and triggering life-threatening floods. "That's the primary driver of the evacuations that are underway by the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia right now".

"We are uniquely positioned to establish a quick ad-hoc supply chain to support relief efforts", said Bettina Stix, an Amazon veteran credited with developing DRbA. You're going to be displaced from your home in the coastal areas. So we could have two landfalls - one around Wilmington and then one near Myrtle Beach or even south of there.

At least 25 million residents are at risk from the storm and experts predict its current path could cause up to $170 billion worth of damage, hit up to 759,000 homes and businesses and become the costliest storm to ever hit the U.S.

"As you know most loss of life and threats to life are from the surge", he said. "You feel like you should have already left".

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