- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2015

An already waterlogged mid-Atlantic region braced for more rainstorms this weekend as Hurricane Joaquin intensified Thursday to a Category 4 storm and inched its way north toward the East Coast.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency, saying his administration was preparing to marshal its resources to manage challenges created by heavy showers and the hurricane.

“While we’re hopeful for the best, we’re preparing for the worst,” he said, noting uncertainty about where and when Joaquin could come ashore and its likely impact on the state.

Like Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who declared a state of emergency Wednesday, Mr. Hogan urged residents to prepare for potential flooding by ensuring they have flashlights, batteries and fresh water. Low-lying and coastal areas — especially on the Eastern Shore and Ocean City — are of particular concern, he said.

In Virginia, the Navy’s U.S. Fleet Forces Command said it was readying to deploy its ships from the Norfolk/Hampton Roads area within 24 hours in advance of the hurricane. Sailors at Naval Station Norfolk — the world’s largest naval base — filled about 13,000 sandbags to protect the base from flooding from torrential rains and a storm surge from Joaquin.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared states of emergency Thursday and urged residents of their states to brace for heavy rain, high water and possible power outages.

One person died Thursday as flooding submerged cars and closed streets in South Carolina, and the drenching storms were expected to move up the East Coast, The Associated Press reported.

In Spartanburg, South Carolina, several cars were submerged in flash floods. One man was rescued Thursday morning after his vehicle was swept off the road where a culvert had washed out, Doug Bryson with Spartanburg County Emergency Management told local news outlets. The man managed to cling to a tree and was taken to a hospital for treatment, though there was no immediate word about his condition.

Another person died in street flooding, Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger told news outlets, but the person’s name hadn’t been released.

Meanwhile, Joaquin unleashed heavy flooding as it roared through lightly populated islands in the eastern Bahamas.

Forecasters warned that it could grow even stronger before carving a path near the East Coast.

The storm battered trees and buildings as surging waters reached the windows of some homes on Long Island and completely inundated the airport runway at Ragged Island. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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