As hurricane bears down on Carolinas, the waiting is over

Water from Neuse River floods houses as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern North Carolina

Water from Neuse River floods houses as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern North Carolina

The outer bands of Hurricane Florence have begun to impact the coast of North Carolina.

They stayed put during the "thousand-year rain" in 2015, when parts of South and North Carolina received more than a foot of rain in five days, and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, when the Category 1 hurricane caused surge flooding of 3 to 4 feet.

Another 8 million people live in areas covered by hurricane and tropical storm warnings.

SC officials say more than 400,000 people have evacuated the state's coast and more than 4,000 people have taken refuge in shelters as Hurricane Florence approaches. "If you're told to go, you need to go. The infrastructure's going to break, the power's going to go out. but we are going to do everything that we can to push forward as quickly as we can to get things back up and working".

In addition, hurricane-strength winds are predicted to batter everything in the storm's path.

The expected high winds and slow movement of the hurricane as it comes ashore are likely to make rescue efforts in flooded areas challenging, senior US Defence Department officials say.

Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

Meanwhile, lane reversals on USA 501 in the Grand Strand ended at noon Thursday and reversals on I-26 ended Thursday night, allowing state police and transportation workers to get to safety before the storm hits.

Florence, a Category 2 hurricane, has a wind speed of 105 miles per hour with gusts of 125 mph late Thursday afternoon.

"This storm will bring destruction", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

A storm surge of nine to 12 feet (2.7-3.6 meters) was expected along the North Carolina coast, Goldstein said, and some areas could receive as much as one metre (40 inches) of rain. Here's why this storm threatens not only the coast but millions of people inland.

In Norfolk, Virginia, police were alerted to people dressed in fluorescent vests going door to door and telling residents that they had to leave their homes and businesses, The Associated Press reported Thursday.

In some counties, almost 1 in 3 people live below the poverty line.

Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.

Florence is widely seen as a test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), whose capabilities were stretched thin past year as it responded to three major hurricanes.

Duke Energy, a local power company, estimated that up to three million customers could lose their supply as a result of Florence.

"This is a very risky storm", Long said.

The coastal area of SC features hundreds of inlets while North Carolina has barrier islands miles away from the mainland.

He said: "I could be wrong".

At 11:00 pm, Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving northwest at six miles per hour, the NHC said.

A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore.

"If I'm wrong, I'll see them on the other side".

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