Hurricane Florence: Southern California first responders trek to East Coast

PACOIMA, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Local first responders are making the trek to the East Coast to help during Hurricane Florence.

Sixteen members of a swift water rescue team and fire personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department left California around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday for Raleigh, North Carolina, ahead of Florence's landfall.

The hurricane, which is strengthening into an expected Category 5, is expected to bring massive flooding, making water rescues very likely.

The team, which is deploying along with several other L.A. and Orange county crews, is expected to stay for seven to 10 days.

South Carolina's governor has ordered more than a million people living along the state's coast to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence. Gov. Henry McMaster says he's preparing the state for winds as powerful as Hurricane Hugo, which plowed inland nearly 30 years ago and caused devastating damage.

Florence is predicted to make landfall on Thursday. The storm is so huge that South Carolina won't be spared even if it escapes the eye of the hurricane.

The evacuation order becomes mandatory at noon Tuesday, but cameras show traffic already backing up along the main interstate connecting Charleston and Columbia.

MORE: Millions prepare for potentially catastrophic Category 4 Hurricane Florence
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Millions of Americans have been preparing for what could become one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades.

Forecasters say hurricane-force winds extend up to 40 miles from the center of Hurricane Florence, and tropical storm-force winds reach up to 150 miles from its eye.

That means the hurricane will be dumping rain over multiple East Coast states, and it's not just a coastal problem. With torrential rains in the Appalachian mountains, that water could easily cause flash floods.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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