Navy ships evacuated, nearly 1,000 National Guard troops activated ahead of Hurricane Florence

Navy ships evacuated, nearly 1,000 National Guard troops activated ahead of Hurricane Florence
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The U.S. military has evacuated 30 Navy ships based in Virginia and activated more than 950 North and South Carolina National Guard troops ahead of Hurricane Florence's expected landfall on the east coast.

Spokesman Col. Robert Manning on Monday said that U.S. Fleet Forces Command has ordered all Navy ships in Hampton Roads, Va., out to sea, as "forecasted destructive winds and tidal surge are too great to keep the ships in port."

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“Ships will be directed to areas of the Atlantic where they will be best postured for storm avoidance,” Manning told reporters at the Pentagon. “Some units will not get underway due to maintenance status but will be taking extra precautions to avoid potential damage.”

In addition, more than 750 South Carolina Guard personnel were placed on state active duty orders for Florence response after 564 were added Monday.

“The Department of Defense is working very closely with the Department of Homeland Security and is prepared to assist [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and our other Federal partners in supporting the States impacted by the storm,” Manning said. 

“Our operation centers are in constant communication and are ready to respond and assist with military capabilities.”

Florence is anticipated to possibly develop into a Category 5, an extremely dangerous major hurricane. It was upgraded to a Category 4 storm on Monday, with sustained winds at 130 mph that are expected to increase further.

In anticipation of the damage, North Carolina has activated 200 of its guardsmen, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Monday.

“We have 200 national guard troops that have been activated and we have many more who are there and ready to serve and to be activated when we need them,” Cooper said.

On Saturday, the governors of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina all declared a state of emergency ahead of Florence's landing, likely to hit the ground late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Cooper, hoping to obtain public assistance for the state, also on Monday requested that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE expedite a declaration of an emergency for North Carolina.

Trump has canceled a planned Friday rally in Mississippi as Florence barrels down.