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PHILADELPHIA (CBS)
– Hurricane Florence is getting bigger, and gaining strength, as it inches closer to the Carolinas.

It is a mammoth Category 4 storm, causing millions of people to prepare for devastating rain, wind, and flooding before the storm makes landfall, expected by Friday.

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“We’re in for a real episode here,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

Gov. McMaster has ordered an evacuation of his state’s entire coastline. In North Carolina, parts of the Outer Banks were ordered to be evacuated by Gov. Roy Cooper.

“The best safety plan is preparation and common sense. We still have a couple of days to get ready, so let’s use that time,” said Gov. Cooper.

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Now, about 40 first responders from the Philadelphia area are heading towards the storm.

“Like many of these deployments, it’s kinda of mission unspoken, destination unknown,” said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel.

Pennsylvania’s Task Force 1 is heading to South Carolina ahead of the storm. Those first responders were deployed this time last year to help areas hit by Hurricane Harvey and then later Irma and Maria.

Thiel says about 40 members of his crew helped load a convoy of trucks with equipment and resources on Monday night. They’re now making a more than 600-mile drive to Columbia, South Carolina, as part of the PA’s Task Force 1.

“There’s really no telling what type of mission – everything from water rescue to urban search and rescue – this team might be able to do,” said Thiel. “The good news is they’re qualified for these missions. We get the benefit of that right here in Philadelphia, 24/7, 365.”