Jersey guy braces for Florence after moving to South Carolina
Ray Handel remembers what it was like to batten down the hatches at his Hillsborough home during Superstorm Sandy.
This week he'll doing it again in Columbia, South Carolina, where he moved to last year. This time, facing Hurricane Florence.
Handel — New Jersey 101.5's former "Ray the Prize Guy" — is about 45 minutes from Myrtle Beach, and is not being evacuated. But people are preparing for the worst while praying for the best.
"The warnings, the fore warnings and the preparation is a lot more in advance. I think a lot of things have been been learned from different storms over the past few years since Sandy. Sandy I think was a lot more of a shock to all of us in New Jersey especially the severity. I think a lot of us were like, 'nah, not here. Not in Jersey.' When it hit it devastated so many areas," Handel said.
The National Hurricane Center's projected track on Wednesday afternoon had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast from Thursday night until landfall Saturday morning, about a day later than previously expected. The track also shifted somewhat south and west, throwing Georgia into peril as Florence moves inland.
President Donald Trump is urging those living in the path of Hurricane Florence to comply with all evacuation orders and emergency instructions. At least 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been warned to evacuate.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Tuesday ordered much of the state's coast evacuated.
West Virginia agencies are mobilizing to respond to problems arising from Hurricane Florence.
Virginia officials are urging residents under a mandatory evacuation order not to return home, despite forecast changes showing Hurricane Florence's path largely missing the state.
The memory of Hurricane Matthew's floods is fresh in the minds of South Carolina relatives. In 2016, about 600,000 lost power for weeks.
Handel said he learned plenty after Sandy.
"Make sure you get an extra set of batteries. Make sure you get some bags of ice into your freezer so if you have no power you can put some ice into coolers to keep your food fresh. Definitely get a generator. Get gas because I remember standing in those long lines with a gas can to fill up that generator," he said.
New Jersey is ready to help out with the rescue and recovery efforts once the storm passes.
Another 21 volunteers left the headquarters of the American Red Cross' New Jersey chapter in Fairfield on Wednesday, the second group that is prepared to help in shelters set up in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia after the storm. Fiften volunteers headed down on Monday.
Among the convoy of vehicles being sent was one of the state's three emergency response vehicle used to serve meals in neighborhoods and a box truck filled with cleaning supplies.
New Jersey's volunteers were sent to Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas in 2017 and are highly sought because of their experience helping with large disasters, according to Red Cross spokeswoman Diane Concannon, especially since such a wide area will be affected by Florence.
"We had people who were requested to help with logistics and staffing shelters. They'll go wherever they're needed based upon what the storm decides to do," Concannon said, adding that she expects additional volunteers to be requested.
The 80 members of New Jersey's Task Force 1 arrived in Kinston, North Carolina, where they are staging with task forces from New York and Florida awaiting their orders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.