ATLANTA, GA – Hurricane Florence has been upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane, and what officials are describing as a life-threatening storm surge is moving closer to the South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia coasts. While there are no storm watches in Georgia, the National Weather Service is advising businesses and residents throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states to monitor the storm’s progress, as storm surge and hurricane watches could be issued for those areas by Tuesday morning.

Florence is the first storm above category 3 to form this season and has formed as the Atlantic hurricane season reaches its peak.

Florence’s center is project to move over the southwest Atlantic between Bermuda and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday, and approach the Carolina coast Thursday. Satellites show the storm’s winds have increased to almost 130 mph, with stronger winds anticipated.

The National Hurricane Center is calling for Florence to develop into an dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.

Pets throughout South Carolina are already being evacuated, with the Atlanta Humane Society taking in 35 dogs and cats over the weekend. The animals will be medically evaluated and placed up for adoption shortly.

Hurricane Preparation Tips

  • Get Prepared: Take action now to be prepared for hurricane season. As the storm approaches, it is often
    too late to get ready. Make sure you have family evacuation and communications plans, update your
    emergency supply kit, and evaluate your flood insurance needs.
  • Complete a family communication plan. Plan how you will assemble your family and loved ones and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Get together with your family and agree on the ways to contact one another in an emergency and identify meeting locations.
  • Create or restock your emergency kit. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency, including an all weather radio.
  • Check your insurance coverage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage or losses from flooding. Review your policy, ensure you’re adequately covered and understand exclusions, and contact your agent for any changes.
  • Stay Informed. Know where to go for trusted sources of information during a hurricane event. Monitor local news resources for hurricane watches and warnings and follow directions of local officials.
  • Determine Your Risk. Find out what types of wind and water hazards are likely in your area. Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem and their effects can reach hundreds of miles inland. Since the U.S. has not been hit by a major hurricane (category 3 or higher) in over a decade, “many people are suffering from hurricane amnesia in the forms of complacency, denial and inexperience.”
  • Develop an Evacuation Plan. Find out if you live in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone or if your home is unfit to keep you safe in a hurricane. Speak with family and friends and work out a plan to use their home as an evacuation destination. Be sure to account for pets, since many shelters do not allow them.
  • Assemble Disaster Supplies. Supplies are necessary not just for the storm itself, but for the often long and grueling aftermath. Stock up on non-perishable food, water and medicine to support your family for at least a week. Other recommended items are cash and battery-powered radios and flashlights. Since many of us use cell phones, have a solar-powered or hand-crank USB charger.
  • Know Your Risk and Plan Ahead for an Evacuation: Know how to receive information including recommendations or orders to evacuate.
    If you plan to go to a shelter, notify staff of any special needs you or your family have.
    Do not return to the evacuation area until the evacuation order is lifted.
  • Get Tech Ready

  • Technology has made it easier to prepare for emergencies, but it can be unreliable during big storms if you haven’t planned to keep your gadgets protected and powered up. Here are some tips to make sure you are tech ready:
  • Be Informed
    Here are basic commands to get started:
  • Download the FEMA app. Receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States. To search for open shelters (for disaster survivors): text SHELTER and to 43362 (4FEMA).