USA residents flee as Hurricane Florence threatens 'exceptionally bad news'

USA residents flee as Hurricane Florence threatens 'exceptionally bad news'

USA residents flee as Hurricane Florence threatens 'exceptionally bad news'

WILMINGTON, North Carolina - Beach communities in North and SC emptied out on Wednesday as Hurricane Florence threatened to unleash pounding surf and potentially deadly flooding as the most powerful storm to make a direct hit on the states in decades.

It was located 925 kms east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving at 28 kph in a west-northwest direction. Its maximum sustained winds are expected to top 145 miles per hour before losing some steam near the coast.

A FEMA official warned Wednesday that Hurricane Florence "is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast" as evacuations continued in preparation for the historic storm.

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the hurricane center says.

The winds cover an area more than 53,000 square miles - which is larger than the entire state of North Carolina.

Forecasters in Wilmington, North Carolina, are emphasizing the potential for what they're calling "unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding".

The National Hurricane Center and computer models have shifted the forecast track for Hurricane Florence noticeably to the south and west, but it doesn't mean northern North Carolina, Virginia and other mid-Atlantic states are in the clear.

Forecasters have adjusted Hurricane Florence's projected path, saying that after it makes landfall, it is likely to take a more southerly route than expected.

"Historical rainfall amounts from #Florence are possible with UNPRECEDENTED flooding", according to the National Weather Service office in Newport and Morehead City, on North Carolina's coast. It may drift around the South Carolina/North Carolina border for about 24 to 36 hours.

The American Red Cross said more than 700 workers were headed to the region while shelters were set up to house those unable to flee.

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Storm surge, the massive mound of water that builds up and comes ashore during a hurricane, is often the deadliest and most destructive threat from the storms.

The last hurricane rated a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson to plow directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people.

Florence's intensity has diminished since it roared ashore along the US mid-Atlantic coast on Friday as a hurricane.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it closed the ports of Wilmington and Moorehead City in North Carolina and restricted port operations in Charleston, South Carolina.

Walking his dog along empty streets, Belli said he's well stocked with food and water.

North and SC residents are running out of time to evacuate before Hurricane Florence roars in with pounding surf and driving rain that will bring potentially deadly flooding, officials warned on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, Florence was extending hurricane-force winds outward up to 70 miles from its center, with tropical storm-force winds up to 175 miles outward. "It's a big one", President Trump said in a taped message. "It goes well inland". Rivers will continue to rise days after the rain has stopped, he said.

"This is not going to be a glancing blow", Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned.

Trojniar said she and her husband were packing up belongings and planned to stack sandbags around their single-floor home in Wilmington's Landfall neighborhood near the ocean before checking into a hotel to ride out the storm. You never know. But we know.

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