USA – Mass Evacuations as Hurricane Florence Heads for East Coast

Mass evacuations have been ordered as Hurricane Florence bears down on the US East Coast.

As of 11 September, Florence was a category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds near 140 mph (220 km/h). Storm surge of up to 12 feet (3.6 metres) is possible along parts of the eastern coast.

The National Hurricane Center in the USA said ” Some strengthening is expected during the next day or so, and Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday night.”

Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 20 (381mm to 508mm) inches with isolated maximum of 30 inches (762 mm) near Florence’s track over portions of North Carolina, Virginia, and northern South Carolina through Saturday. This rainfall may produce life-threatening flash flooding.

Astronaut Ricky Arnold, from aboard the International Space Station, shared this image of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 10, taken as the orbiting laboratory flew over the massive storm.
Image Credit: NASA


North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland governors have declared states of emergency. Evacuation orders have been issued in coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

South Carolina

South Carolina has ordered than 1 million residents to evacuate coastal areas. A full list of areas to be evacuated can be found here.

Public schools and state offices have also been closed until further notice in 26 counties.


In Virginia, Governor Northam issued mandatory evacuation order for coastal Virginia residents in low-lying areas of Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore in advance of Hurricane Florence.

This area is referred to as Virginia’s “Zone A” for disaster emergencies and includes around 250,000 residents. Zones are designated A through D. Zones provide residents with clarity on whether they should evacuate in an emergency or shelter at home, based on their address and the nature of the emergency event. More about the zones and evacuation orders can be found here.

“Hurricane Florence has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding, especially in our coastal areas,” Governor Northam said. “This evacuation is for the safety of thousands of Virginians living in that zone. But the effects of this storm will be felt statewide, and I encourage everyone in Virginia to prepare now.”

North Carolina

Around 300,000 people have been ordered to evacuate North Carolina’s coastal areas, mostly around the barrier islands including Outer Banks, Hatteras and Ocracoke.

“We face three critical threats from Florence: ocean surge along our coast, strong winds, and inland flooding from heavy rain,” Governor Cooper said. “Wherever you live in North Carolina, you need to get ready for this storm now and you need to evacuate if asked to.”

Storm preparations are underway throughout the state, and most coastal counties have ordered evacuations. In North Carolina, when to evacuate starts with a local decision because local officials know their communities and their people best.

The governor urges residents to follow evacuation orders issued for their areas. As list of areas under evacuation orders (as of 11 September) can be found here.

Flood Summary

Last updated: September 19, 2018
Hurricane Florence, USA, September 2018
September 13, 2018
Coastal flood, River flood, Storm surge
Storm surge, Extreme rainfall


A - Morehead City
B - New Bern
C - Belhaven


River level
2.03 metres
Pungo River at Belhaven, NC - September 14 to September 14, 2018
6.66 feet. Flood stage is 2 feet, historic high is 3.17 ft (0.96 m) set in October 2015.
River level
2.80 metres
Neuse River at Oriental - September 14 to September 14, 2018
9.2 feet. Flood stage is 4 feet, Historic Crest 4.45 ft (1.37m) October 2015
Rainfall level
460.5 mm in 72 hours
Marion, South Carolina - September 13 to September 16, 2018
NCEP figures. More storm totals can be found here.
Rainfall level
860 mm in 72 hours
Swansboro, NC - September 13 to September 16, 2018
Rainfall level
748.79 mm in 24 hours
Hofmann Forest, NC - September 13 to September 16, 2018
Rainfall level
640.08 mm in 24 hours
Newport/Morehead City, NC - September 13 to September 16, 2018
Rainfall level
600 mm in 24 hours
Wilmington International Airport - September 13 to September 16, 2018
River level
8.92 metres
Trent River at Trenton, NC - September 17 to September 17, 2018
29.28 feet. Previous record was 28.4 feet (8.65 metres)
River level
8.60 metres
North East Cape Fear River at Chinquapin - September 17 to September 17, 2018
28.2 feet. Previous record was 23.5 feet (7.16 metres)


North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia - September 11 to September 14, 2018
Evacuation orders issued to 1.5 million people. As of 19 September, over 10,000 were still in emergency shelters in North Carolina.
35 people
North Carolina, South Carolina - September 14 to September 19, 2018
26 in North Carolina due to severe flood
2200 people
North Carolina - September 14 to September 19, 2018
Agricultural damage
North Carolina - September 14 to September 19, 2018
According to North Carolina Department Agriculture and Consumer Services said Tuesday that 3.4 million chickens and turkeys have been killed and 5,500 pigs
Homes damaged
North Carolina - September 14 to September 19, 2018