Hurricane Florence lashes USA east coast, triggers flood warnings

Florence path

"Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm due to storm surge as high as 9 to 13 feet".

The utility also said Thursday it is shutting down a coastal North Carolina nuclear power plant ahead of Hurricane Florence.

Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning".

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FEMA's first priority after Florence passes will be getting infrastructure that's critical to communities' well-being up and running, Long said.

"When we decided where to go, everybody was going west, but we decided we should go as far south as possible, which is weird since Florida gets hurricanes", said Jordan who works as a preschool director in Burgaw, North Carolina.

The storm was downgraded from a category 4 on Thursday to a category 2, but its massive size (about 400 miles wide) and the storm surge it is bringing with it was expected to hammer the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and perhaps even Georgia.

Once the centre moves inland, the intensity of the hurricane is set to decrease, according to a forecast discussion posted on the NHC's website. Another 8 million people live in areas covered by hurricane and tropical storm warnings.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.

People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro, N.C., September 13, 2018. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles. He urged people to stay off roads during peak storm conditions and warned against driving through standing floodwater.

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The storm is expected to be just offshore by Friday and is now a Category 3 storm with 125mph top sustained winds. But said if you are in an area that normally floods during heavy rains, "You should go ahead and leave".

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Officials say anyone who has not heeded mandatory evacuation orders is on his own.

Several of the images were taken when the ISS was directly over the eye of the hurricane.

"The idea of having to leave with my two cats and go somewhere for a week or more. once you leave, you don't know how many days it will be before you can return", a Wilmington resident named Kate tells VOA.

Air Force General Terrence J O'Shaughnessy, head of US Command, said search and rescue is a top priority but that the magnitude of the storm may exceed the ability of rescuers.

The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who chose to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information.

"This is an absolute life-threatening scenario".

"We'll handle it. We're ready".

"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management. "We are staying here to keep you up to date".

"Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week".

That said, the storm is still expected to stall once it hits the Wilmington coast, with weather officials early Thursday raising the expected total rainfall for Wilmington to 35 inches - weather officials had predicted 30 inches for Wilmington in briefings released Wednesday.

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