President Donald Trump approved disaster declarations for North Carolina and South Carolina on Monday night as the incredibly powerful Hurricane Florence barrels towards the U.S. southeast.
The Carolinas and Virginia already issued disaster declarations, but Trump’s approval allows states to more easily coordinate with federal agencies and access emergency funding. Governors and federal lawmakers in all three states asked Trump to expedite disaster declaration approvals.
Trump’s approvals authorize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies “to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population … and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe” in the Carolinas.
“Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency,” reads the orders. “Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding.”
In a tweet preceding the emergency declaration approvals, Trump said the federal government is “ready to assist 24/7.” The president said he spoke to governors of all three states in Florence’s path. (RELATED: Here’s Why Hurricane Florence Has Nothing To Do With Global Warming)
Just had calls with South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam regarding the incoming storm. Federal Government stands by, ready to assist 24/7.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2018
Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday in North Carolina as at least a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds near 140 miles per hour. Heavy rainfall and massive storm surge are also expected.
However, there’s still a chance Florence could strengthen to a Category 5 before landfall. State officials aren’t taking any chances and have ordered mandatory evacuations in coastal communities.
Our best hurricane model (HWRF) projects #HurricaneFlorence on a track right into North Carolina as a Category 4 late Thursday into Friday.
The intensity will fluctuate with eyewall cycles but still a chance at Category 5 in the next 24-36 hours. pic.twitter.com/kQH2aOIkSc
— Ryan Maue | weathermodels.com (@RyanMaue) September 11, 2018
Officials have also stressed the potential for flooding inland, particularly due to the mountainous terrain of the Carolinas once you move away from the coast. Large swaths of Virginia and North Carolina are forecast to get up to 15 inches of rainfall over the next seven days, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane #Florence is not just a threat to the coast. Very heavy, prolonged rainfall is expected over a large portion of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic. Here is the latest 7 day rainfall forecast from @NWSWPC. pic.twitter.com/HVMCOMDQIr
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 10, 2018
Trump also approved a disaster declaration for the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean in preparation for Typhoon Mangkhut.
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