[Newsmaker] 'Threat becomes reality': Florence begins days of rain, wind

Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm smashes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and crawls slowly inland.

WILMINGTON (North Carolina) • Coastal North Carolina felt the first bite of Hurricane Florence yesterday as winds began to rise, a prelude to the slow-moving tempest that forecasters warned would cause catastrophic flooding across a wide swathe of the USA south-east. Parts of North Carolina could get 40 inches (1 meter) of rain.

Florence is the most risky of three tropical systems in the Atlantic.

CAROLINA BEACH, North Carolina (CNN) - Officials in the potential path of a still fierce Hurricane Florence had a stern, clear message for people still in coastal towns under evacuation orders.

President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. Mostly people are getting better at evacuating, with three-quarters of the Florida Keys fleeing before Irma, Masters said. Spokesman Howard Fowler said restoration could take "weeks instead of days", even though 20,000 workers, including crews from outside the area, were standing by.

Florence remained a serious threat, packing maximum sustained winds of 105 miles-an-hour Thursday afternoon with hurricane force winds extending 80 miles from the center.

What also makes Florence extremely unsafe are the deadly storm surges, mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall expected far inland.

A man rides his bike as the Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina, Sept. 13, 2018. Florence, a storm expected to significantly impact the U.S.

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A camera at the Frying Pan Tower located 34 miles off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina has been livestreaming a view of the Atlantic Ocean since May, and is powering through the storm to dutifully record an American flag over the rising waves.

Mayor Joe Benson said the storm will batter Carolina Beach through two high-tide periods. "We're kind of at the mercy of the storm". "It's going to happen".

"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way, '" she said. "I've got four cats inside the house". Poor people are less likely to evacuate since they can't afford to travel and stay in other regions.

In Sea Breeze, Roslyn Fleming, 56, made a video of the inlet where her granddaughter was baptised because "I just don't think a lot of this is going to be here" after the storm, she told Reuters news agency.

"We're a good community up there". The company is now in the middle of cleaning up the sites and will not be finished by the time Hurricane Florence rolls in.

Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 300 miles ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swathe from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged.

Forecasters' European climate model is predicting 2 trillion to 11 trillion gallons of rain will fall on North Carolina over the next week, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com.

People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways early Wednesday as Florence bore down on the coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes. "The anxiety level has dropped substantially", Epperson said.

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