On Monday, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia declared a states of emergency urging residents to fortify their homes, gather supplies, and prepare for possible evacuation orders as Hurricane Florence, which began as a tropical storm strengthened to a Category 4 Hurricane with the possibility of hitting the coasts of these three states by Thursday. The hurricane, according to pre-landfall data by CoreLogic, could damage nearly 759,000 homes, with a reconstruction cost value of $170.2 billion.
Earlier, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), issued a notice encouraging individuals, households, and communities to prepare for the potential impact from Florence.
“Everyone, especially those who are at greatest risk of being impacted by this storm, should start preparing now by seeing what they may need in an emergency and preparing for any possible impacts from Florence,” advised MaryAnn Tierney, FEMA Region III Regional Administrator.
According to the National Hurricane Center's forecast, the hurricane is likely to approach the coast of South or North Carolina by Thursday and is predicted to bring life-threatening impacts to the states. These could include structural damages to homes along the coast and inland. According to FEMA, a storm like Hurricane Florence can snap or uproot many trees and cause major damage to well-built framed homes and also impact electrical and water supply, causing a loss of billions of dollars in terms of property damage and individual losses.
To give a comparison, Hurricane Harvey, also a Category 4 storm, that made landfall in Texas last year, caused billions of dollars in losses through damage to homes and households. According to FEMA, the damages meant that it had obligated more than $1.6 billion through the individual assistance program for more than 300,000 families and households to help with repair, rebuilding, personal property loss, or other non-insured losses which included housing assistance. This was not including the total public assistance grants, where FEMA obligated more than $911 million for debris removal and protective measures for electricity and water supply.
Recently, in the aftermath of Hurricane Lane, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also issued advisories to homeowners on their disaster relief policies for borrowers in areas where FEMA has made individual assistance programs available to affected individuals and households. One main point in the GSE’s disaster relief policies is a 12-month mortgage forbearance, where mortgages may be suspended for up to 12 months. During this period, homeowners will not incur late fees or have delinquencies reported to the credit bureaus.
In preparing for Hurricane Florence hitting the states soon South Carolina has ordered mandatory evacuations for coastal counties starting Tuesday. On Monday, Governor Henry McMaster submitted a request for the availability of federal resources should the storm make landfall in South Carolina. "This request, if approved would also make state and local agencies eligible for reimbursement through FEMA for certain costs related to emergency measures taken during the storm and for debris removal, if necessary," a statement issued by McMaster's office said.
President Donald Trump issued a state of emergency for the states to be impacted, noting the historic size of this storm.
"The safety of American people is my absolute highest priority," sad President Trump. "We are sparing no expense, we are ready, as ready as anyone has ever been."
"I've spoken to the governors of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia," said President Trump. "We're working very well in conjunction with the governors."
Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina has also asked for a federal disaster declaration on behalf of North Carolina to ensure the state can get federal aid as soon as possible.
“We are working closely with the National Hurricane Center and FEMA and our other partners and leveraging that wealth of experience to ensure we can respond to any need,” North Carolina's Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said. “We ask the public to stay tuned to local forecasts and follow instructions from your local emergency officials and to have a plan for yourself and your family members, including your pets.”
Read more about the assistance provided by the GSEs: