FLORENCE: Up to 30 percent of NC could lose power

Florence path

Executives say if you're riding out the storm near the coast you should not expect to have power back for days or even weeks.

North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from prisons and juvenile detention centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.

Florence was about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, N.C., at 8 a.m. ET Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

While the storm's winds will abate as it moves inland, they could continue to gust to tropical-storm-force - especially near its core.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water.

The storm will churn very slowly Friday and Saturday, extending the damaging winds and huge amounts of rain that will hit the same areas of North and SC for 24 hours. Then, it likely will hover along the coast Saturday, pushing up to 13 feet of storm surge and dumping 20-30 inches of rain on both states before slogging over the Appalachian Mountains.

The result: catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, farm fields and industrial sites.

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Holly Waters, a retired special education teacher from Wilmington, said she was happy to have a place to go to relax before the storm worsened.

PREVIOUS STORY: Hurricane Florence, now a Category 2 storm with 110 miles per hour winds, is forecast to reach the coastline of the Carolinas early Friday morning with little strengthening expected before landfall.

"Get out of its way, don't play games with it", said Mr Trump. "Its a big one", he said at the White House.

It's unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. Airlines had cancelled almost 1,000 flights and counting. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centres to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks.

Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach, N.C., September 12, 2018, as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast. Cameras may stop working during the storm.

Myrtle Beach International Airport in SC has also suspended commercial operations, and urges passengers to check with their airlines - not the airport - about upcoming itineraries. Hurricane Florence is now over 500 miles (804 kilometers) in diameter.

Cooper and his SC counterpart, Henry McMaster, told the more than 1 million people who have been told to leave that if they don't, they are on their own.

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There remains uncertainty regarding the precise track of Florence.

"And that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd and Matthew".

A storm surge of 10 feet above normal levels was reported by the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, North Carolina, at the Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal on the Neuse River, courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said.

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.

"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees.

Forecasters anxious the storms damage will be all the worse if it lingers on the coast.

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While it's great that the government is ready for this monster named Florence, it's not so great when the President conflates the situation by claiming that a storm which has weakened somewhat significantly over the last 48 hours, is now "more powerful".

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