Just months ago, disaster planners simulated a Category 4 hurricane strike alarmingly similar to the real-word scenario now unfolding on a dangerously vulnerable stretch of the East Coast. A fictional "Hurricane Cora" barreled into southeast Virginia and up the Chesapeake Bay to strike Washington, DC, in the narrative created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Argonne National Laboratory. The result was catastrophic damage. Florence is also a Category 4 storm and is now forecast to strike the same general area. On Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center's "cone" displaying Florence's projected path included the Hampton Roads, Virginia, region where Cora supposedly made landfall.
The simulated hurricane knocked out power for most gas stations in the Mid-Atlantic region, damaged a nuclear power plant, and sent debris into major shipping channels, reports the AP. The fictional storm brought a 15-foot storm surge and up to 9 inches of rain to some areas within the first six hours and threatened hundreds of cell towers; the area where power was knocked out included 135 data centers in Virginia and another 60 in Maryland. The manual makes no mention of deaths and injuries, focusing instead on infrastructure. Another striking similarity between the scenario and Hurricane Florence's path: already saturated ground on that part of the Mid-Atlantic coast. Senior leaders from the White House, along with more than 91 federal departments and agencies, participated in the "national level exercise" in late April and early May, FEMA said.
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