UPDATED: 9:32 a.m. EDT, Sept. 14, 2018:
North Carolina is battling Hurricane Florence, with the Category 1 storm bringing estimated maximum sustained winds of 90 mph Friday morning. Weather experts predict the storm will hit the Carolinas with dangerous flooding and massive rainfall of more than 40 inches. Coastal areas may even see a storm surge upwards of 13 feet, National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Pfaff said to BuzzFeed News. Those areas, along with several parts of both North and South Carolina, have been evacuated ahead of the storm.
UPDATED: 1:19 p.m. EDT, Sept. 13, 2018:
Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Thursday, starting its expected multi-day wrath on the state’s wealthier beach communities. While Florence has weakened, according to forecasts and meteorologists, the National Weather Service said the updated reference to its strength was misleading.
Although at least 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the state’s communities along the Southeast coast, African-American residents were likely to bear the brunt of the monstrous storm.
Updated September 12, 2018, 4:10 p.m., EDT
Officials have called out the Trump administration over concerns about the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA, ahead of Hurricane Florence’s expected arrival later this week.
Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley brought attention to The Department of Homeland Security, which had transferred nearly $10 million from the FEMA to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE,) according to a document released by his office on Tuesday. Trump’s administration has denied that a transfer took place from its FEMA accounts for disaster relief, The New York Times reported.
Additionally, the U.S. general who led the military’s response after Hurricane Katrina spoke out against Trump’s messages that the nation is well-prepared for Florence. “I don’t understand the government giving a whole lot of assurance that they’re ready because we’re never ready for a Category 4,” Lt. General Russel Honoré said to MSNBC this week. “What we’ve got to be ready for is the response — to be able to bring assets beyond what the states have and bring that massive military force, those ships that have left, and bring them back in to help save lives.”
Officials have warned residents in North and South Carolina who are near waterways to move to higher ground — an advisory that largely affects some of the poorest communities in the states. Many low-income populations and communities of color have struggled in recovering from severe storms such as Hurricane Harvey, which was followed by a slow recovery and sluggish release of federal aid for dozens of people.
Updated September 11, 2018, 10:30 a.m., EDT
Authorities issued mandatory evacuation orders that affected more than 1 million residents of coastal Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, as Hurricane Florence gained strength, CNN reported.
The hurricane reached sustained winds of 140 mph Tuesday morning, and it’s expected to increase to at least 157 mph by Thursday night, when it will likely make landfall somewhere along the Carolina coastline.
Many universities across the three states have suspended classes. Officials at Shaw University, a North Carolina HBCU, Twitted a weather alert to the campus community. Several other HBCUs across the affected region issued similar warnings.
As communities along the Southeast coast brace for Hurricane Florence, African-American residents are likely to bear the brunt of the monstrous storm.
Evacuations were underway on Monday as the hurricane reached sustained winds of nearly 130 mph and were expected to reach 150 mph over the next 36 hours, NPR reported.
The National Hurricane Center predicted that Florence will deliver “life-threatening impacts” to a large swath of the East coast later this week.
Despite the warnings and past storms, including hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2017, the nation is not ready because the U.S. lacks a “culture of preparedness,” FEMA Administrator Bock Long told USA Today.
A disproportionate number of African-Americans generally live in low-income neighborhoods or buildings that are susceptible to storm shocks, according to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy think tank. The substandard infrastructure of affordable housing units is at greater risk of crumbling under the pressure of hurricane winds.
People living in those vulnerable communities tend to not have the resources to relocate to safer locations. If they are able to get away, they usually struggle to replace storm-damaged property because they typically lack flood insurance policies.
Long after cities clean up following hurricanes, Black folks often find themselves at the end of the line for receiving government assistance. Three months after Harvey, Black residents were being left behind in getting the help they need, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Episcopal Health Foundation.
In applying for FEMA assistance, 34 percent of white residents had their applications approved, compared to 13 percent of Blacks. A disproportionate number of Black people also struggled to find housing and purchase necessities like food for months after the storm was over.