Incoming! by @BloggersRUs


by Tom Sullivan

Seventeen years ago today, thousands died in a terrorist disaster neither average citizens nor government officials charged with protecting them saw coming. On this September 11, a million and a half Americans facing a natural disaster are evacuating the Carolina and Virginia coasts.

Thanks to the National Hurricane Center, the National Weather Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites, citizens have had days of warning. Your tax dollars at work. Which means, of course, somewhere in an office at a conservative think tank, some theorist is wondering why we don't privatize the lot and make people pay for warnings that could save their lives. Government shouldn't be distorting the market.

Hurricane Florence will likely be the most powerful storm ever to hit this far north on the east coast:

“We do know we’re in the bull’s eye. We’re using this time to get together all the people we need, the equipment that we need, locating our strategic resources,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Monday. Local authorities have ordered the evacuation of more than 250,000 residents and tourists from coastal islands and beach towns, where authorities expect a storm surge of at least 10 feet.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Monday evening ordered the evacuation of roughly a quarter of a million people from sections of the Eastern Shore, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Norfolk and the Middle Peninsula starting Tuesday morning. Northam also activated the state’s entire National Guard to provide help and requested 21 swift-water rescue teams from other states.
That storm surge will be exacerbated by the shallowness of the sea floor, Axios adds:
The Carolinas are uniquely vulnerable to storm surge flooding because the continental shelf extends far offshore, by about 50 miles, which creates a large shallow area that enables a storm to build up water to great heights. (Other hurricane-prone areas, like southern Florida, have a steeper slope offshore, and typically see lower surge amounts.)
As bad as the coastal effects could be, The Daily Beast reports damage from Florence could be devastating far inland:
Meteorologists fear that Hurricane Harvey-style rainfall could deluge the Carolinas causing massive freshwater flooding reminiscent of the devastation in Texas last year, which killed 68 people and caused $125 billion in damage.

Florence, which may have strengthened to near Category 5 strength, is expected to make a direct hit in the northernmost part of South Carolina or North Carolina. Rather than continuing to churn north along the coast, the hurricane is expected to strike the coast head-on and move inland, allowing it to dump vast quantities of water—perhaps more than 30 inches in places—as it slows down.

The U.S. Navy ordered almost 30 ships in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia to put to sea to avoid the storm.

Just weeks ago, researchers at the George Washington University's (GWU) Milken School of Public Health estimated the number of Americans in Puerto Rico who died last year from the effects of Hurricane Maria at 2,975. That event now exceeds the death toll from the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York. Hurricane Katrina claimed more than 1,800 lives in 2005. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz tweeted, "The # of deaths 2,975 reinforces the pain inflicted on the people of PR and the violation of our human rights. THEY WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN."

Besieged as he is, one might think the sitting president would enjoy the distraction of responding to hurricane recovery at his doorstep with more than paper towels and photo ops. But as Brian Williams observed last night on "The 11th Hour," the hurricane is "a huge empathy challenge for an empathy challenged president." Pray no one tells Trump those low-country coastal counties are part of "the black belt."

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