Forecasters said conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina border and makes its way slowly inland.
- It's about the water, not the wind, with Florence making an extended stay along the North Carolina coast.
Since issuing a mandatory evacuation order Wednesday, nearly all of the more than 2500 residents left the island. "Once these winds start blowing at that tropical-storm rate, it will be virtually impossible for the rescuers to get in to rescue you". "So if you're on the beach the time to go is now". "We are going to hunker down and stay safe and not stay in mobiles and we will be OK".
Avair Vereen, her fiance and one of her seven children at a shelter in Conway, South Carolina yesterday as several states along the U.S. eastern coast were bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence.
"If we lose the house, oh well, we can get housing".
Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour, the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.
"This storm will bring destruction", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.
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. Certain counties will experience both Category 1 and Category 2 impacts because the properties closer to the coast are likely to experience stronger winds relative to the more inland properties. "Today the threat becomes a reality", according to The Associated Press.
Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump tweeted that he had just been briefed on the storm and "FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement are supplied and ready".
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.
"One minute we're at a high state of alert, the next we're at a low state, but we can adapt to the situation", said Capt. Eric Abdullah, of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, who said officials were trying to stay flexible.
Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.
He said: "I could be wrong".
As of 11 p.m. ET, Florence was centred about 135 kilometres east-southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to seven km/h.
A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.
Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million and 3 million outages. "It's very hard to say at this point". They then did the forecast again using conditions that would have been expected in a climate unchanged by human activity, meaning greenhouse gases, aerosols and other atmospheric metrics were all set to "pre-industrial levels", or those found more than 150 years ago.