‘It’s coming straight for us’: Canadians in Florence’s path prepare for worst

Ottawa is warning Canadians to avoid all travel to that stretch of the U.S. East Coast.

James Hrynyshyn, formerly from Dryden, Ont. poses for a photo outside of his home in Saluda, North Carolina. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, James Hrynyshyn)

Canadian James Hrynyshyn and his family were drawing up emergency lists and charging battery-operated devices on Wednesday, among the millions diligently preparing for hurricane Florence, a monster storm that’s anticipated to make landfall in the Carolinas early Saturday.

“It’s coming straight for us,” said Hrynyshyn, who grew up in Dryden, Ont., and moved to Saluda, N.C., 13 years ago. “Saluda is right in the middle of the cone.”

The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have issued mandatory evacuation orders for many coastal counties ahead of Florence, which was closing in with terrifying winds of 215 kph and potentially catastrophic rain and storm surge.

Ottawa is warning Canadians to avoid all travel to that stretch of the U.S. East Coast.

READ MORE: Hurricane Florence reaches Category 4, could strike U.S. southeast

Global Affairs Canada issued a statement Wednesday saying the areas to be avoided extend from Edisto Beach in South Carolina to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including Pamlico Sound and Albemarle Sound.

“Everybody is talking about it,” said Hrynyshyn, adding the local gas station ran out of fuel earlier in the day and the local electricity utility has dispatched work crews to the coast.

However, he said there’s a good chance the storm will blow itself out by the time it reaches his home near the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 380 kilometres from the coast.

His main concern is heavy downpours. Some forecasts were calling for more than 200 millimetres of rain in the western part of the state.

“It’s hard to know how serious to take it … but people are still worried,” said Hrynyshyn, a 53-year-old communications consultant who specializes in climate science.

“Apparently there’s a lot of uncertainty at this point.”

In May, the Saluda area was hit by two rainstorms within 48 hours, causing mudslides that left three people dead, he said.

“It’s pretty unusual for us to have extreme weather,” Hrynyshyn said. “But like everybody else, we’re experiencing more extremes than we used to … I don’t expect to get a catastrophic amount of rain, but nobody predicted the massive amount of rain that we got in May.”

Meanwhile, communities along the Carolinas’ coast prepared for the expected arrival of Florence, as forecasters warned the massive storm could stall over the area and dump a tremendous amount of rain through the weekend.

In a videotaped message from the White House, President Donald Trump said the government was fully prepared for Florence but urged people to “get out of its way.”

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm was expected to hover along the southern edge of the North Carolina coast from Thursday night until making landfall Saturday morning.

As well, Global Affairs said Wednesday Canadians should avoid travelling to parts of the Caribbean, including Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique, because tropical storm Isaac is headed in that direction.

“If you reside in the affected areas, you should exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports and follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders,” the department said in a statement that also advised travellers to download the government’s free Travel Smart app to get updated travel advice.

“Canadians should contact their loved ones who may be in harm’s way to ensure that they are aware of the latest recommendations.”

On the other side of the world, super typhoon Mangkhut is bearing down on parts of southeast Asia, and Global Affairs is warning Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to the Babuyan Islands in the Philippines.

Federal officials are asking Canadians in the affected areas to sign up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad service, which will allow the Canadian government to reach them in case of an emergency.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Penticton physician and family reflect passion for medicine with hospital gift

Dr. Paul Cobbin and family donate to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s campaign

Penticton gallery searching for young budding artists

A Penticton gallery is putting a call out for young artists for their next exhibition

A campaign encourages families to put down their phones and talk this Mother’s Day

OpenTable’s #DiningMode gets Okanagan restaurants on board with a no phone policy while dining

Okanagan experience for the Blue Man Group

The world tour of the Blue Man Group came to Penticton this week for two shows.

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Two in critical condition, several still in hospital after Langley deck collapse

Close relative Satwant Garcha makes daily trips to visit those injured at the wedding

Kelowna man speaks up for limb loss awareness after losing leg

Ralph Zaiser is getting used to life as a recent amputee

Canadian privacy watchdogs find major shortcomings in Facebook probe

The probe followed reports that Facebook had let an outside organization use an app to access users’ personal info

Allegedly intoxicated man arrested after 3 paramedics attacked at Kamloops hospital

Paramedics had transported the man to Royal Inlands Hospital for medical treatment

B.C., Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Most Read