More than 1.5 million ordered to evacuate ahead of Florence
Jonathan Serrie reports on the hurricane preparations of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
If more than a million people head for higher ground, South Carolina officials say they have no plans to relocate 650 inmates at a medium-security prison, choosing instead to take their chances with a monster Category 3 hurricane rolled in the direction of them.
The current plans call for a pre-planned crew and the prisoners at the MacDougall Correctional Institution to stay put as Hurricane Florence – is expected to gain strength Wednesday night – head for them.
It is a strategy that they have previously used.
Department of Corrections spokesman Dexter Lee told Vice News that in the past, “it is safer to stay in place with the inmates rather than move to a different location.”
Inmates at the MacDougall not to evacuate during Hurricane Hugo, a Category 4 hurricane, and the prison “had no structural damage,” Lee said.
MacDougall is located in Berkeley County, one of five provinces under a mandatory evacuation of the governor.
Inmates at the Ridgeland Correctional Institution in Jasper County are also stuck. While the original estimates had Jasper in Florence vizier, updated information has downgraded the threat.
It’s a different story in North Carolina. Officials there began the evacuation of hundreds of prisoners from the state prisons and local jails on Monday.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Jerry Higgins told The Charlotte Observer that hundreds of state prisoners moved to a larger office space. Hundreds more where time in county jails will be moved to a prison state. The inmates will be moved to their assigned prisons as soon as Florence goes.
“All offenders affected by the move will be allowed to make a free phone call with a family member in the weekend,” he said.
In Virginia, approximately 1,000 prisoners in the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake were moved from the Monday to the governor issued a mandatory evacuation for low-lying coastal areas.
The prison on the website describes the medium security, dormitory-designed facility as an “intensive long-term institution-based treatment program for incarcerated substance abuse offenders.”
The Virginia Department of Corrections, said the inmates were transferred to the Greensville Correctional Center – the state’s largest prison.
With less than 48 hours before it is expected that they arrive, Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 3 storm on Wednesday afternoon. The storm, which is likely to intensify to a Category 4 storm early Thursday, is likely to flatten houses, snap power poles and lead to massive “catastrophic” floods. It is described as the most intense hurricane to hit the region in the past 25 years.
“This will probably be the storm of a life for parts of the Carolina coast, the National Weather Service said.