Georgia under state of emergency ahead of hurricane

Deal issues emergency declaration for all 159 counties

Large and risky, Hurricane Florence is drawing closer to the coast of the Carolinas, where it threatens to become the most intense storm to strike the region in at least 25 years, since Hugo.

Florence is now a powerful Category 3 storm with winds of 125mph, and is expected to strengthen before making landfall along the Carolina coast later this week.

A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington amid concern over potential torrential rain and flooding.

The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday the massive waves were produced by being trapped along with very strong winds moving in the same direction of the storm's motion.

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

Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 90 miles.

The National Weather Service said 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million live in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches. In South Carolina, close to the Georgia line, Beaufort County emergency chief Neil Baxley told residents they need to prepare again for the worst just in case.

Forecasts generally project Florence to make landfall in southeastern North Carolina on Friday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

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"The Charleston area now is expected to see at least 1-2 inches of rain over the next several days". Many major roads and arteries have reversed traffic flow to help residents evacuate quickly.

Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.

Areas along the coast from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, NC, including the Neuse, Pamlico, Pungo and Bay rivers may experience storm surges from 9 to 13 feet.

Florence's weakening as it neared the coast created tension between some who left home and authorities who anxious that the storm could still be deadly. Isaac could bring heavy rainfall to Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe.

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Although it was once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140mph, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night. Eudy and his family stayed home in New Bern in part to protect their house. "We just need to figure out how to make it through".


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