Home Original Why Hurricane Florence Poses a Threat to Inland, Mountainous Regions of Virginia

Why Hurricane Florence Poses a Threat to Inland, Mountainous Regions of Virginia


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Hurricane Florence strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane this week, becoming a serious threat to the East Coast. Recent reports state that Florence may become even more powerful and grow into a Category 5 hurricane.

The largest threats remain near the coast and evacuation measures have already begun to take place in areas that are directly in the storm’s path. Many residents who are further inland have considered sheltering in place, because they're away from the coast and the threat of a storm surge.

While storm surges do not typically threaten inland communities, heavy rain and powerful winds still have a detrimental effect on affected areas, which creates other emergency concerns such as flooding, downed trees, building collapses, power blackouts and serious/lethal injuries to victims. Category 4 storms are very powerful and the effects are particularly far-reaching.

As Florence churns towards the United States, particularly Virginia, emergency management measures will be in place. Individuals will be asked to consider evacuating threatened areas.

But people living in the mountains of Virginia should also take specific precautions for flash floods. There is a historical reason for this caution. In 1969, Hurricane Camille caused unbelievable damage in Nelson County, Virginia.

Hurricane Camille Killed over 150 People in Virginia’s Nelson County

According to Weather Underground weather expert Dr. Jeffrey Masters, Hurricane Camille was a Category 5 hurricane when it hit the Gulf Coast. It managed to gain steam over land and became stronger by the time it entered Nelson County.

Once in Virginia, Camille dumped an estimated 25-30 inches of rain over a period of five hours. Serious flooding and landslides occurred and trees were uprooted. Over 150 residents were left dead or missing in Virginia.

Virginia Residents Should Prepare for Inland Flooding and Landslides From Florence

Just because a place is inland doesn't mean that a storm won't negatively affect it. Hurricane Camille taught us that powerful storms over land can gain more steam and create a significant amount of havoc to inland areas.

This doesn’t mean that Hurricane Florence will cause the same kind of damage that Camille did. when it hits. But Virginia residents would be wise to prepare for extensive flooding by developing emergency plans, creating evacuation kits, stockpiling nonperishable food and potable water, and paying attention to broadcasts.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.