East Coast residents are on the move in anticipation of Hurricane Florence, which is gaining strength as it approaches the United States.
Mandatory evacuation orders are forcing out more than 1 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, CNN reported. Generating 140 mph. winds, the hurricane is now a Category 4 storm.
Hurricane Florence — currently 900 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina — is expected to hit the southeastern United States on late Thursday or Friday, according to The Weather Channel.
The National Weather Service warned of a “life-threatening storm surge,” “life-threatening freshwater flooding” and “damaging hurricane-force winds.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered 245,000 residents along the coast to evacuate, Reuters reported. South Carolina’s Gov. Henry McMaster ordered up to a million people to do the same. Residents of coastal North Carolina were also evacuating on Monday and Tuesday, according to ABC News. Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks ordered a mandatory evacuation, according to NBC News.
“We know that this evacuation order is going to be inconvenient for some people,” Gov. McMaster said on Monday afternoon, NBC News reported. “But we do not want to risk one South Carolinian’s life.”
McMaster added, “We are not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina.”
States of emergency have been declared in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. North Carolina State, University of North Carolina, UNC-Wilmington, The Citadel, Coastal Carolina University and College of Charleston in North and South Carolina have all canceled classes in anticipation of the storm, according to ABC News.
President Donald Trump tweeted multiple times about the impending storm. He wrote, “My people just informed me that this is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years. Also, looking like a direct hit on North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!”
Crystal Kirwan — who evacuated her Moyock, North Carolina, home with her family on Monday — planned to drive more than four hours to Dover, Delaware. “Probably not too much better, but most likely safer than here,” she told CNN.
People stocked up at grocery stores and waited at gas stations in preparation. A Home Depot in Wilmington, North Carolina, sold out of necessities like plywood, water, generators, propane, flashlights and batteries, CNN reported.