WASHINGTON, Sept 12, (Agencies): US President Donald Trump promised Wednesday that the federal government was “ready” and “able” to handle Hurricane Florence, warning residents to get out of the way as the monster storm bears down on the East Coast. “They say it’s about as big as they have seen coming to this country, and certainly to the East Coast as they’ve ever seen,” Trump said. “We’ll handle it. We’re ready, we’re able, we’ve got the finest people I think anywhere in the world,” he added in a video message posted on his Twitter account.
Florence is currently a Category 4 hurricane on the five-point Saffir- Simpson scale and was forecast to slam into the Carolinas later this week. More than a million people are under mandatory evacuation orders, and coastal residents frantically boarded up homes and businesses and hit the road as the storm approached. Florence is forecast to trigger severe flash flooding as it dumps up to three feet (almost a meter) of rain in some areas. Life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet in some places were also forecast. “Get out of its way, don’t play games with it, it’s a big one, maybe as big as they’ve seen, and tremendous amounts of water,” Trump said.
“Bad things can happen when you are talking about a storm this size. It’s called Mother Nature. You never know, but we know. We love you all, we want you safe. Get out of the storm’s way.” In a separate tweet, Trump warned that the storm was “looking even bigger than anticipated.” Meanwhile, the Navy is moving people and ships ahead of Hurricane Florence , and the Air Force and Army are both flying advanced aircraft elsewhere as a safeguard.
Some remaining Marines, meanwhile, are digging in their heels. Florence is headed for a region with some of the most well-known military bases in the country, including Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia and the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island in South Carolina. While thousands of Marines and their families have already left Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, there was no mandatory evacuation.
The commanding general said Tuesday that anyone remaining at the base would have food, water and protection despite being in the projected path of the storm. “Since 1941, this base and its Marines have been postured to deal with crises at home and abroad and Hurricane Florence is no exception,” said a message from Brig Gen Julian D. Alford. Some military families and others took to Camp Lejeune’s Facebook page, venting fears and questioning the base’s plans.
Nonessential personnel were released from duty at Lejeune and told they were free to relocate with their families to a site within a 500-mile (800-kilometer) radius of Jacksonville. Nat Fahy, a spokesman for the command, said the base was the safest place for anyone who had not evacuated already. Shelters on the base are expected to open early Wednesday, he said, and there will be a full complement of resources for those sheltering in place. Of the roughly 40,000 active duty troops at Lejeune, about three-quarters live off the base. Fahy did not know yet how many remained at the base.
Evacuations were also under way at other bases across the region. Colin Richards, a Navy diver based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, was among the military personnel leaving ahead of Hurricane Florence. The 28-year-old was mostly concerned for his daughter who is one month old. “It’s very simple,” he said Wednesday morning. “We don’t want to live without power with a newborn.”
Recruits were set to leave the Marine Corps’ largest training installation on the East Coast Tuesday, but those plans changed after South Carolina’s governor rescinded an evacuation order as the storm’s projected path shifted northward. Some nonessential personnel and families evacuated, but the bulk of the more than 8,000 Marines and support staff at Parris Island remain on the base