‘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

Sylvan Lake Pirates hockey team add tally to win column

The Pirates won versus the Westlock Warriors on Dec. 9

Another successful year for the Sylvan Lake Charity Check stop

The annual charity drive took place on Dec. 8 on 47 Avenue between Shoppers and McDonald’s.

Spray Park Committee hosting kid friendly New Year’s Eve party

The Sylvan Lake Spray Park Committee is hosting the Kids Countdown Party fundraiser on Dec. 31

Sylvan Lake Grade 6 students learn about municipal government first-hand

Grade 6 students are learning about municipal government and attended Monday’s Council meeting

Retired B.C. teacher a YouTube Sudoku sensation

A retired Kelowna teacher has amassed quite the following online by teaching the art of solving a Sudoku puzzle.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wins party no-confidence vote, but troubles remain

May won the vote of 317 Conservative legislators with a 200-117 tally

Firm says trees obstructing vision at Humboldt Broncos crash intersection

Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured in the collision at an intersection north of Tisdale

Three victims of ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest suing Alpine Canada

The victims are also seeking $150,000 each in punitive damages

Trudeau names four new senators, filling every seat in the Senate

Trudeau has appointed 49 senators since becoming prime minister and will have the chance to appoint more in 2019

Judge gives Michael Cohen 3 years in prison

Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved a harsh punishment for crimes including tax evasion

Humboldt Broncos, cannabis, Fortnite: Here are Canadians’ top Google searches for 2018

When celebrities died or Canada Post went on strike, Canada turned to Google

Condominium market still ‘a lot better’ than normal in Vancouver suburbs

The Fraser Valley, east of Metro Vancouver, has long been considered a more affordable haven for first-time homebuyers.

Most Read