Hurricane Florence: Why Americans shouldn’t ignore evacuation orders


As Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the eastern coast of the U.S. in mid-September, Richard Serino of Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health spoke about the importance of having a “culture of preparedness.”

In a September 14, 2018 opinion piece in The Hill, Serino, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, and co-author Mary McElman wrote that, during a disaster, “Life and safety of citizens is always the priority, second is preservation of property, and lastly protection of the environment.”

Serino was also interviewed on BBC America about the dangers of the hurricane.

“The majority of people die from flooding, not necessarily from the winds,” he said. “That’s why when the local officials say to evacuate, people should listen to those orders.”

On September 17, Serino appeared on CNBC to discuss the response to the hurricane by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Serino is a former FEMA deputy administrator.

At least 42 deaths have now been attributed to Hurricane Florence, according to officials. There were 31 deaths in North Carolina, nine in South Carolina and two in Virginia. Well over half of those killed were in vehicles.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he knows the damage in his state will add up to billions of dollars, but said with the effects on the storm ongoing, there was no way to make a more accurate estimate.


“The flooding is like nothing we have ever seen,” Cooper said. “People in hard hit communities do want to go back, but many are still having to wait.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster estimated damage from the flood in his state at $1.2 billion in a letter that says the flooding will be the worst disaster in the state’s modern history. McMaster asked Congressional leaders to hurry federal aid.

Twenty-four school districts remained closed as of Thursday, CBS affiliate WNCN-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina, reports.

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