USA beach town braces for powerful Hurricane Florence

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Hurricane Florence kept everyone on edge Wednesday, when the storm began sliding southward and taking aim at the Georgia coast.

Mandatory evacuation orders impacting as many as 1.7 million people are in place along the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, and all three states are under a State of Emergency along with Maryland.

Florence is forecast to remain a category 4 hurricane Wednesday and Thursday as it moves closer to the southeast coast of North Carolina. Emergency managers and mayors have warned residents about the danger the Category 4 storm poses.

Florence could then slowly move inland near the state line or some computer models suggest it may move down the SC coast before actually make landfall later in the weekend.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that storm surge watches and warnings are in effect Wednesday for the entire North Carolina coast and parts of SC.

A hurricane watch has been placed in effect for Edisto Beach South Carolina to the North Carolina-Virginia border, and a storm surge watch is in place for the same zone.

Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was imperative locals heed the evacuation warnings.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses could be flooded in North Carolina alone, Governor Cooper warned.

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Maps of Florence's route show its centre will most likely strike the southern coast of North Carolina.

Forecast models predict Florence's center may slow to a crawl just off North Carolina early Friday and make a southwesterly turn - punishing the coast while moving perhaps only 2 to 3 miles per hour. "If we try to leave, we'll just get stuck in the rain", she said.

The video tracks across the swirling clouds at the outer edges of the hurricane before passing over the eye. Hurricane warnings are issued 36 hours before tropical storm force winds hit the areas.

Hurricane Florence in the Atlantic Ocean as it threatens the US East Coast. Tropical Storm Isaac was east of the Lesser Antilles and expected to pass south of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, while Hurricane Helene was moving northward away from land.

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the hurricane center says. Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centers to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.

Some people would rather not deal with the hassle of loading up the vehicle and driving someplace they would rather not be, said Jay Baker, a retired Florida State University geography professor who studies hurricane evacuation behavior.

Coastal residents have already started leaving the shores and heading west inland, but many are finding empty gas pumps as gasoline stations are sold out of gas. She was going to ride the storm out in the Myrtle Beach area where she lives.

Forecasters say Florence is expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, then slow down and dump 1 to 2½ feet of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.

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