There’s one question everyone in the Carolinas wants answered as Hurricane Florence moves closer to land: How will it compare to other historic hurricanes that have caused massive amounts of damage? CBS News reported that the devastation caused by Florence could be just as massive, if not more so, than Hurricane Hazel. Hazel is currently the biggest hurricane to hit the Carolinas in modern history, and it ripped apart 15,000 buildings in 1954.
Even though Hurricane Florence has currently been downgraded to a Category 2 storm, versus Hazel’s initial landfall Category 4 rating, there are still many similarities that residents need to be aware of. In fact, Hurricane Hazel’s destructive power continued unabated even as its wind strength dropped from 150 to 100 MPH. To put this into perspective, AccuWeather’s latest update places Hurricane Florence’s strength at 110 MPH. Even worse, the coastal region has a significantly higher number of residents and buildings now than it did in 1954, which means the risk of extensive property damage and fatalities is much greater.
Last year, Hurricane Harvey battered Texas with an astounding 60 inches of rain. It made landfall as a Category 4 storm and then stuck around long enough to kill 68 people. According to the Caller Times, Harvey ranks second on the list of the most expensive hurricanes in U.S. history, behind only Katrina.
Much like Harvey, Hurricane Florence is projected to stick around for an extensive amount of time after it hits the coast. Even with the possibility of reduced wind speeds, the sheer amount of rain that’s expected to fall could cripple the coastline of the Carolinas for several weeks or even months. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Florence is going to wallop a much bigger area than Harvey and Katrina. At the current time, Hurricane Florence has reached a diameter of almost 500 miles. Harvey was only 280 miles, and Katrina made land with a 400-mile diameter.
Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, made a dire prediction to Caribbean Business while comparing Hurricane Florence to Hurricane Maria.
“This can be compared to Maria with a small fluctuation in the trajectory… what’s expected is something very catastrophic.”
According to a local North Carolina resident who hails from Puerto Rico, Hurricane Florence threatens to make many relive Hurricane Maria. She told Caribbean Business that numerous people from Puerto Rico now live in Fayetteville, North Carolina. That area will be spared the highest winds, but it’s still expected to experience gusts up to 70 MPH and as much as 20 inches of rain in Hurricane Florence’s wake.
As residents choose between evacuating and trying to ride out the latest natural disaster, President Trump continues to argue over how many people died in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. Per USA Today, the Trump administration also reallocated approximately $10 million of FEMA’s budget to boost ICE. If Hurricane Florence is as devastating as expected, a lack of funding could make cleanup and rescue operations an even bigger nightmare than usual.