Millions urged to flee as hurricane hits US

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The Independent Online
THE TREE-LINED squares of Savannah, an old-time city on Georgia's Atlantic coast, stood all but silent as the population moved, as fast as it was able, out of harm's way.

Twenty-five miles inland, traffic inched away from the sea and from Floyd, an unwelcome visitor to one of the most hospitable cities in the Old South.

The hurricane is still a day away. There is only a light breeze and the skies are clear. But with its unimaginable force Floyd's presence looms over an all-but-empty city.

Nearly 2 million people were urged to evacuate coastal areas from Florida to North Carolina as the hurricane, one of the most powerful storms ever to threaten the United States, roared through the Bahamas. Floyd's eye was expected to come within 50 miles (80km) of north Florida's coast by this morning, before striking land somewhere farther north.

More than 250,000 people were on the move, said Deputy Sheriff Harold Singleton of the Chatham County sheriff's department. "Everything's going out. Nothing's coming in."

Even the C-5 transport planes of the Georgia Air National Guard have gone.

But some people were staying. One antique-shop owner was busily criss- crossing duct tape on his windows. Inside, ashotgun stood propped against a wall, a precaution against looters. He was not bothering to board up the windows. "When winds are 140mph they'll tear the boards off," he said.

A state in panic, page 3