Hurricane Florence: Mass evacuations see thousands of cars streaming inland on converted highways

Long lines forming at service stations as motorists run out of fuel

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 12 September 2018 11:06 BST
Hurricane Florence: Mass evacuations see thousands of cars streaming inland on converted highways

Thousands of cars lined evacuation routes out of coastal areas along the US Eastern Seaboard as Americans fled the impending impact of Hurricane Florence, with gridlock delaying journeys in some places.

More than 1.5 million people have been ordered out of at-risk areas in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia as the Category 4 storm bears down.

Motorists streamed inland on highways converted to one-way traffic routes to escape what North Carolina governor Roy Cooper called a “vicious, monster storm”.

A line of heavy traffic moved away from the coast on Interstate 40, the main route between the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, and inland Raleigh.

Between the two cities, about two hours apart, the traffic flowed smoothly in places and became gridlocked in others because of minor collisions.

Only a trickle of vehicles was going in the opposite direction, including pick-up trucks carrying plywood and other building materials.

Long lines formed at service stations and some started running out of fuel.

Hurricane Florence From Space

Parts of the East Coast are bracing for flash floods from well over a foot of rain in the coming days plus storm surges as high as 9ft, according to forecasts.

Its 140mph winds are expected to cause widespread devastation when it hits late on Thursday.

“The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster,” Mr Cooper added.

“This one really scares me,” National Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham said.

Donald Trump has declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, saying the US government was “absolutely, totally prepared” for Florence.

Additional reporting by agencies

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