Philly sends first responders to battle Florence

As residents of the Carolinas and Virginia evacuate their homes, bracing for landfall by the now-Category-4 Hurricane Florence, first responders from the Philadelphia area will be joining the fight.

Some 80 members of PA-Task Force 1 arrived in South Carolina on Tuesday to assist with preparation, clean-up and other disaster-related efforts in the region.

A convoy of trucks filled with resources and equipment left the Tacony area around 12:30 a.m. Monday night. They began a 630-mile trek to a base of operations in South Carolina. 42 of the group are members of the Philadelphia Fire Department. The rest of the first responders are from various agencies around the Philadelphia region.

PA-Task Force 1 is sponsored by the Philadelphia Fire Department, and is one of 28 urban search-and-rescue groups under the supervision of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

They were activated by FEMA to assist along the south-eastern U.S. coast, where Florence’s rage has forced residents to abandon their homes, while flights and trains are canceled as the full might of the storm remains to be seen.

PA-Task Force 1 previously has helped out with disasters including hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

The first responders trucked into South Carolina on Tuesday afternoon – see below.

NHC map of Hurricane Florence expected landfall.

Hurricane Florence keeps growing

Some forecasters were warning that Hurricane Florence could reach Category 5 on Tuesday, meaning winds faster than 150 miles per hour would be spinning inside it, including the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC warned that Florence was becoming “better organized and increasing in size” on Tuesday.

A life-threatening storm surge is possible along the coast of North and South Carolina when the storms touches land, which is expected early Thursday but could come late Wednesday night. Inland flooding is expected to follow.

“Florence is expected to begin re- strengthening later today and continue a slow strengthening trend for the next day or so,” NHC said in their latest advisory, posted on Tuesday around 2 p.m.. “While some weakening is expected on Thursday, Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through landfall.”

The storm was reported to be spinning at speeds around 130 miles per hour internally, with hurricane-force winds gradually extending and reaching some 70 miles outward from the eye of the storm, and tropical-storm force winds extending 170 miles from the storm’s center.

While the Philadelphia region is in the eventual path of Hurricane Florence late on Thursday, it is expected by that point the hurricane may have weakened or could possibly be pushed back southward by a growing high-pressure system in the northeast.

Check back with for the latest updates.

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