Over a million told to flee as Hurricane Florence stalks US East Coast

This photo provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018, as it threatens the US East Coast. (NASA via AP)
Updated 11 September 2018
0

Over a million told to flee as Hurricane Florence stalks US East Coast

CHARLESTON, United States: More than a million people were ordered Monday to evacuate the path of Hurricane Florence as the Category 4 storm packing winds of 130 miles per hour (195 kilometers per hour) bore down on the East Coast of the United States.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster told up to one million residents of the state’s eastern coast to leave their homes ahead of the powerful storm’s arrival on Thursday.
The governor of neighboring North Carolina also ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks and parts of coastal Dare County while a state of emergency was declared in Virginia.
“This is a very dangerous hurricane,” McMaster said, adding that the evacuation order for coastal counties was “mandatory, not voluntary.”
“We do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane,” the governor told a press conference. “We’re liable to have a whole lot of flooding.”
Hurricane Florence has the potential to bring catastrophic flooding to areas of the eastern United States already soaked by heavy rain and may be the strongest storm to hit the region in decades.
A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, Florence was 575 miles (925 kilometers) south-southeast of Bermuda and the center of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest advisory.
“Florence has continued to rapidly strengthen,” the NHC said at 1500 GMT. “Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.”
President Donald Trump tweeted out a message to residents in the storm’s path, urging them to heed the warnings of state and local officials.
“To the incredible citizens of North Carolina, South Carolina and the entire East Coast — the storm looks very bad!” wrote the president, who canceled a planned rally Friday in Jackson, Mississippi in light of the approaching storm.
“Please take all necessary precautions. We have already began mobilizing our assets to respond accordingly, and we are here for you!“
At a hardware store in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, store manager John Johnson said the rush on batteries, flashlights, plastic tarps and sandbags began Friday.
“From eight o’clock ‘til two we were slammed,” said Johnson, who sold scores of bags of sand over the weekend, saving just a few to barricade the store’s own doors.
“We were nonstop.”
On Monday afternoon, nurse Barbara Mack was using a small shovel to fill sandbags at a public works facility in Charleston — but she saw a silver lining in the hurricane preparations.
“This is good exercise,” she quipped. “This is probably the only exercise I get this week.”
Storm surge and hurricane watches may be issued Tuesday morning for portions of southeastern US states, the NHC said.
On its current track, Florence is expected to slam the Carolinas and Virginia the hardest.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s office warned of “catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages,” cautioning that the deadliest risk would come from flooding.
The US Navy said it was preparing to send about 30 ships stationed in Virginia out to sea.
The vessels will get underway from Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek to avoid potential damage from winds and tidal surges, Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said.
Heavy rain in the Washington area over the weekend has already led to flooding in historic Alexandria, Virginia, and the National Weather Service issued a flood watch for part of the Potomac River.
Florence is currently moving west at around 13 mph (20 kph).
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s office said Florence is already being felt along the state’s coast, with large sea swells resulting in life-threatening rip currents and surf.
“This is a huge storm,” said Robert Woodward, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, predicting 15 to 20 inches of rain.
“Never have we seen quite this type of a storm approach us.”
At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other hurricanes, Helene and Isaac.
Helene — 375 miles (600 kms) west of the Cape Verde islands off the African coast — had winds up to 105 mph (165 kph), and was expected to continue moving west-northwest for another couple of days, the NHC said in its 1500 GMT bulletin.
Hurricane Isaac — which late Sunday became the fifth hurricane of the season — is heading west toward the Caribbean.
At 1500 GMT, Isaac, which the NHC called a small hurricane, was about 1,150 miles (1,855 kms) east of the Windward Islands — a region still recovering from last year’s powerful Hurricane Maria — with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph (120 kph).
Maria — which killed at least 3,057 people, most in Puerto Rico — is believed to be the third-costliest tropical cyclone on record.
The costliest hurricane in US history, Katrina was a Category 3 storm when it made landfall on the Gulf Coast in August 2005 — claiming an estimated 1,833 lives.


“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

Updated 24 September 2018
0

“No-deal” Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

LONDON: Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could ground airlines, stop hauliers from lugging goods to the world’s biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to government documents.
With just six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that negotiations are at an impasse and that the EU must come up with new proposals on how to craft a divorce settlement.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Britain, which has warned it could leave without a deal, published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.
“If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.
Overall, the government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit — the nightmare scenario for chief executives of most multinationals operating in Britain — would look like.
Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.
The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.
“Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK,” the government said.
Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.
In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.
That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.
Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.
Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say the government is trying to scare voters about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain, many Brexiteers say, will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.