Sept. 4 (UPI) — U.S. President Donald Trump approved North Carolina’s emergency declaration Tuesday night as Coastal regions from Florida to Virginia remained on the lookout for Hurricane Dorian.
With Trump’s approval of North Carolina’s emergency declaration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been authorization to coordinate disaster relief efforts in the state “to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety,” the order said.
FEMA, in particular, has been tapped to provide resources necessary to alleviating impacts of Hurricane Dorian.
The entire South Carolina coast was under a hurricane watch on Tuesday evening as Hurricane Dorian brought tropical storm conditions to Florida.
The Carolinas ramped up preparations for Hurricane Dorian as the Category 2 storm began its anticipated northwesterly move and now threatens to strike at least a glancing blow in the coming days.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered mandatory evacuations along the state’s eastern coastline, affecting about 830,000 people. Authorities reversed lanes to Interstate 26 from Charleston to Columbia and on U.S. 278 from Hilton Head to expedite departures.
“When you add the residents evacuating … that will create a recipe for gridlock or worse,” McMaster told reporters. “We do not want people to be stuck on the highway.”
Government offices and schools in South Carolina’s eight coastal counties closed Tuesday due to the evacuation order, and many businesses and attractions are closing, as well.
Officials in North Carolina have warned tourists and residents on the Outer Banks islands they could become trapped if they don’t leave by Wednesday. Potential storm surges could block the only state highway into and out of the area, officials said.
“Please keep in mind that highways along the coast frequently suffer over-wash during periods of surge and everyone should make their evacuation plans accordingly,” Hyde County officials said.
Many school districts along the North Carolina coast have already canceled classes for Wednesday. The University of North Carolina-Wilmington said it will close campus at 5 p.m. Tuesday and ordered a mandatory evacuation for students and staff.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called on residents to heed evacuation orders and other instructions by emergency personnel as Dorian approaches.
“I urge you to closely follow the forecast and listen to your local officials,” he said. “If they order an evacuation please follow their instructions.”
The National Weather Service warned of “life-threatening” storm surges from the Category 2 hurricane, which began to inch northward early Wednesday after spending most of Monday stalled over the Bahamas. Dangerous storm surges are possible in both Carolinas and Georgia, forecasters said, and water levels will rise as hurricane-force winds approach the coastline.