- Mark Schleifstein won a Pulitzer Prize for his work covering Hurricane Katrina and knows a lot about natural disasters.
- On Tuesday, he warned people refusing to leave their homes ahead of Hurricane Florence to “write your Social Security number on your arm, so officials can identify your body.”
- He also suggested keeping an ax in the attic, most likely so people can use the ax to break out through their roof if waters rise too high.
- Hurricane Florence is predicted to hit the Carolinas as early as Thursday night.
A veteran reporter who covered Hurricane Katrina in 2005 gave a dark warning on Tuesday to people refusing to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence: “Write your Social Security number on your arm, so officials can identify your body.”
Mark Schleifstein has been reporting on hurricanes and severe weather for the New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune since 1984, and he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Category 5 Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Florence is expected to start pounding the US around North Carolina’s border with South Carolina as early as Thursday night, according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest predictions. Evacuations have been ordered in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Officials say the biggest danger is from storm surges and heavy rain, which the NHC says could cause floodwaters as high as 13 feet in some areas.
Schleifstein’s full message, posted on Twitter, said:
“Live along areas of the N.C./S.C. coast ordered to evacuate and not going to do it? Keep an axe in your attic. And write your Social Security number on your arm, so officials can identify your body.”
More than 1 million people on the US’s East Coast have been given mandatory evacuation orders by state and local governments. But not everyone is listening.
CBS News interviewed one man staying behind, who said: “We have two generators, plenty of gasoline, everything’s filled up. If I need more gas, I’ll just take it out of my vehicle.”
Schleifstein’s advice on Tuesday to those residents who won’t leave their homes is informed by his articles on Katrina. He covered the more than 1,800 deaths from the hurricane, many of which were due to flooding.
In a 2010 article for George Washington University’s magazine, GW, he said his own home was hit by a 12-foot storm surge.
“Our home was inundated by 12 feet of water, or, as my wife explains to new acquaintances, ‘We had two feet of water … on the second floor,'” he wrote.
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