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A circular cloud seen from space.
Information icon Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station. Photo by Astronaut Ricky Arnold, NASA.

Service prepares for Hurricane Florence impact in Carolinas

Hurricane Florence has the Carolinas in her sights. The Category 4 storm, with winds of up to 130 miles per hour, is expected to hit the North Carolina coast north of Wilmington late Thursday night, bringing a storm surge of 4-12 feet, according to Kevin Scasny, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) meteorologist.

Florence has the potential to cause “catastrophic damage,” Scasny said Tuesday morning on a planning conference call conducted by the Service.

A map of the forecasted path of Hurricane Florence. Landfall is expected in southeastern North Carolina.
Hurricane Florence forecast cone from the National Hurricane Center.

The National Hurricane Center stated “life-threatening freshwater flooding is likely from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event.” More than 1 million people are expected to evacuate from parts of North and South Carolina.

The Service is mobilizing heavy equipment task forces and law enforcement teams to get into the impact zones as quickly as possible. They will start assisting wildlife refuges and communities hit by the hurricane as soon as it is safe.

Staffers from the Service and other agencies will make rescue operations for communities their first priority, as we did for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2018 and other past storms. Another priority will be securing and repairing the infrastructure of the national wildlife refuge system.

The North Carolina coast is rich with wildlife refuges, including Alligator River, Pocosin Lakes, Swanquarter, Pea Island, Mattamuskeet, Cedar Island and Currituck. Florence could also damage communities and refuges in Virginia and South Carolina.

The Service has learned a great deal from previous hurricanes about how to respond. From Katrina in 2005 to Irma and Maria last year, the Service’s Southeast Region has been particularly challenged, and has set up an operations room in the Regional Office in Atlanta to coordinate efforts. The Service is coordinating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies.


Phil Kloer, Public Affairs Specialist, (404) 679-7299

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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