Hurricane Florence hours away from Carolinas

HO/AFP/Getty Images In this September 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the USA east coast as seen from the International Space Station.

Hurricane Florence is expected to hover over the Carolinas through Saturday night, dumping an insane amount of rain and wind on the area.

"This is a powerful storm that can kill", said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in a Thursday press briefing.

On Wednesday, Florence was downgraded twice from its peak as a Category 4 storm which causes "catastrophic damage". Despite the fact that the hurricane has been downgraded to Category 2, the 80 miles per hour winds and coastal flooding will still cause significant damage throughout the southeast.

Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall by early Friday, bringing a storm surge as much as 13 feet (4 meters).

The winds may be down a bit, but the one-two intense punches that we are expecting are still there.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

And in Wilmington, North Carolina, a steady rain began to fall as gusts of winds intensified, causing trees to sway and stoplights to flicker.

Avair Vereen, 39, took her seven children to a shelter in Conway High School near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "We're still going to have a Category 4 storm surge". "If we lose the house, oh well, we can get housing".

"But we can't replace us so we chose to come here".

It is a Coast Guard station located 34 miles off the coast of North Carolina.

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"Hurricanes don't move through like typical storm events; they are these massive events with a lot of rainfall, and sometimes they move fairly slowly once they make landfall and drop a lot of rain on communities that may not have infrastructure prepared to handle that", Camp told Fox News.

Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely unsafe storm for rain and storm surge.

Up to 10 inches of rain is predicted as far west from the Atlantic Ocean as Charlotte, N.C., the NHC's Ken Graham said Thursday.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

FEMA and the National Weather Service also urged residents along the coast to evacuate. "Your time is running out".

Long said the danger was not only along the coast. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

Horton pleaded for volunteers to take in their animals for the duration of the storm, a common, plaintive refrain at other shelters across the area.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate - but the window to do so in nearly over.

Hurricane Florence is at the doorstep of North and SC, and she's not going away anytime soon.

Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather with his dog Canelo.

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