Hurricane Florence: Carolinas brace for 'storm of lifetime'

The Union Point Park Complex is seen flooded as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern North Carolina

State and local officials warned residents to remain vigilant as Hurricane Florence battered the Carolina coastline with 100-mph winds and surging sea levels. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled.

Florence's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Thursday at 105 miles per hour (165 kph) after it was downgraded to a Category 2 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, according to the NHC.

Roughly 1 million people are under evacuation orders.

Tropical Storm Florence trudged inland on Saturday, flooding rivers and towns, toppling trees and cutting power to almost a million homes and businesses as it dumped huge amounts of rain on North and SC, causing five deaths.

Wilmington resident Julie Terrell said she was concerned after walking to breakfast past a row of shops fortified with boards, sandbags and hurricane shutters. Its forward movement increased slightly to 9 km/h Hurricane-force winds extended 150km from its centre.

National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said in a video briefing North Carolina would see the equivalent of up to eight months of rain in a two- to three-day period. On the side streets, inside of residential areas, there were few signs that anyone had chose to stay behind to wait the storm out.

The City of North Myrtle Beach stated its curfew is meant to protect residents, minimize the potential for looting and other crimes, and keep roadways clear for emergency personnel, and includes patronizing restaurants.

The hurricane center said Florence would approach the coast on Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

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.

After game canceled, Colgate donates meals to those displaced by Hurricane Florence
Roy Cooper says there are over 12,000 people in 126 shelters as the first effects of Hurricane Florence begin to batter the state. Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by what has been described as the most severe storm to hit the region in decades.

"Being in the medical field, they have where you can stay there, but being 20 weeks pregnant it just makes it hard for me to sleep on the floor", Constable said.

Associated Press story by Johanthan Drew.

But North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".

Southeastern coastal North Carolina and far northeastern SC are expected to get pelted with 20 to 30 inches of rain, and some isolated spots may get up to 40 inches in 48 hours.

More than 421,000 South Carolinians already have evacuated from the coast, McMaster said.

North Carolina activated 2,800 National Guard personnel, and SC called up 2,100 of its National Guard soldiers to be ready to aid in recovery efforts once the storm has passed. "Our flooding issue is only going to get worse".

"Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", Long added.

"Unfortunately, when storms hit is during our fall season", he said. "I've never been one to leave for a storm, but this one kind of had me spooked".

"The concern started on Tuesday and then they allowed me to change my flight, but then they had no flights that I could change it to", said flier Jill Murray.

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