Florence haunts S.Carolina residents
Storm’s shift causes anxiety in state
For people in South Carolina, Hurricane Florence is playing a scary game of cat and mouse.
The category 2 storm’s shifting track has had people here wondering if they will get a direct hit or something a little less violent.
The latest forecast is that Florence will move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina Thursday night and Friday.
“It’s a fickle mean girl. She doesn’t know what she wants to do,” said Kelly Preston, a 56-year-old housewife, as she walked around the still-sunny city of Charleston as it awaited the storm.
Though it has been downgraded from category 4, the storm is still described as extremely dangerous, with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour and potential for life-threatening storm surges and widespread flooding.
Until Tuesday, forecasters were saying the storm looked likely to make landfall in North Carolina.
But now the National Hurricane Center says “a slow motion” over eastern South Carolina is forecast Friday night and Saturday.
“It’s Russian roulette. We just don’t know where it’s going. I’m playing. I just want to go home and sit in my chair,” said Preston.
Nicholas Cundiff, a 27 year old doctor riding his bike on deserted streets as the storm moved closer, was not frightened, either, even though nearly a million people have been ordered to evacuate coastal areas of South Carolina.
“I haven’t made up my mind. I probably stay,” said Cundiff.
“It’s a little disconcerting given that there’s so much unknown, but I think it looks like it shouldn’t be too horrific, so I think I’ll be OK riding it out. If suddenly it’s bad, I’ll head out.”
Charleston was a ghost town on Wednesday, as windows were covered with boards or sheet metal and stores were closed.
The only people around were crews banging hammers to give the final touches to the emergency preparation work. But many homes in this stately and historic city are old or run down, and most had no protection covering their windows.
Only some houses had a few sandbags outside to protect against what forecasters are describing as a once-in-alifetime storm.
“I do worry though about people here because many didn’t prepare, you know. Because originally they didn’t think it was going to be so bad here,” retiree Barry Sparks said as he bought water in the state capital Columbia.
“And I can imagine some people are not prepared,” he said.
States all along the US east coast have declared states of emergency amid fears of catastrophic flooding from the hurricane.
Appeals to stay safe came from as far away as space: German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted pictures of the monster storm taken from the International Space Station along with the warning: “Watch out, America!”