Navy Evacuates 30 Warships Out Of Norfolk as Hurricane Bears Down

The US Navy is not taking any chances with Hurricane Florence.

US Fleet Forces Command Public Affairs released a statement that Navy officials ordered all warships in the Hampton Roads, a body of water in Virginia and the surrounding metropolitan region in Southeastern Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina, to set Sortie Condition Alpha.

According to the report, 30 warships are actively departing from Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek as Hurricane Florence is forecasted to bring Category 4 storm conditions to the Mid-Atlantic coast this week.

Officials have directed the vessels to regions of the Atlantic where they will evade the storm. The report did not mention where the ships were headed and indicated that not all warships were able to flee the naval ports.

 "Some units will not get underway due to maintenance status but will be taking extra precautions to avoid potential damage. Commanding officers have a number of options when staying in port, depending on the severity of the weather. Some of these options include adding additional mooring and storm lines, dropping the anchor, and disconnecting shore power cables," said Fleet Forces Public Affairs.

Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Christopher Grady said, "Our ships can better weather storms of this magnitude when they are underway."

 Additionally, the report stated all Navy installations in the Hampton Roads region are set Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness Three (III), meaning the Navy expects destructive winds of greater than 50 knots.

"Navy installations in Hampton Roads have begun to prepare for the storm. Some preparations include securing hazards throughout the installations, removing debris from drainage areas, designating alternate parking areas for flood prone areas, sand bagging flood prone areas, topping off fuel in generators and government vehicles and relocating dumpsters and equipment to more secure areas," said Fleet Forces Public Affairs.

 Video: U.S. Navy Ships Sortie Out of Naval Station Norfolk Prior to Hurricane Florence

City officials in Norfolk held a press conference on Tuesday morning, asking residents to shelter in place for up to 72 hours when Hurricane Florence strikes and warned people do not rely on outside help.

City leaders and public safety officials said their weather models were expecting unprecedented storm surges and more than 10 inches of rain to dump on Norfolk later this week. 

Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander declared a local state of emergency Tuesday morning.

"There will be a point in the storm where we will not risk lives and send out public safety personnel to come get you," City Manager Doug Smith said.

Officials advised residents to leave evacuation zones situated near the coastlines. 

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) released a report specifying Florence was about +900 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at 15 mph. Its center will be wedged between Nassau and Bermuda on Wednesday and approach the coastal area of the Carolinas and Virginia on late Wednesday into Thursday, as a possible Category 4/5 storm.

Not even the US Navy wants to stick around and find out what happens next.