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Tech: A veteran reporter who covered Hurricane Katrina has a grim warning for anyone in Hurricane Florence's path who doesn't evacuate




  • Mark Schliefstein won a Pulitzer for his work covering Hurricane Katrina, and he knows a lot about natural disasters.
  • He warned people on Tuesday refusing to leave their homes: "write your Social Security number on your arm, so officials can identify your body."
  • He also said to keep an axe in your attic, likely so people can break out through their own roof if the waters rise too high.
  • Hurricane Florence is predicted to make landfall on North Carolina's coast late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

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 New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune since 1984, and was part of a team who won a Pulitzer prize for their Katrina coverage.

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall somewhere on North Carolina's coast late on Thursday night or early on Friday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Evacuations have been ordered in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Officials say the biggest danger is from a storm surge and heavy rain, which could cause flood waters as high as 13 feet.

Schliefstein said that those who will not follow orders to leave best "keep an axe in their attic."

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 a million people on the east coast have been given mandatory evacuation orders by the government. 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 the category-five Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As part of that he covered the 1,836 deaths from the hurricane, many of which were from flooding.

In an article for George Washington University's magazine, GW, he wrote that his own home was hit by a 12-foot storm surge. He said: "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.'"

The official death toll for Katrina was 1,836, many of whom were killed by flood waters.

A man climbs onto the roof of a van to escape flood waters in 2005's Hurricane Katrina.play

A man climbs onto the roof of a van to escape flood waters in 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

(REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/Files)

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