NHC says Florence has weakened to a tropical storm

Amazon again puts disaster relief efforts in motion as Hurricane Florence set to punish Carolina coast

Amazon again puts disaster relief efforts in motion as Hurricane Florence set to punish Carolina coast

Emergency officials on Wednesday urged millions of residents along the southeastern USA coast to finish preparations ahead of Hurricane Florence, which is expected to unleash damaging winds and life-threatening amounts of rain when it makes landfall this week.

Almost one year after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, killing more than 1,400 Americans and leaving the island largely powerless for months, President Donald Trump issued a message on Hurricane Florence: "We're ready". "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.

North and SC and Virginia officials ordered the evacuation of more than 1.5 million people as Florence headed to those coastlines with an expected landfall Friday.

Two other tropical storms - Isaac and Olivia - have also been in the vicinity this week, with the National Weather Service estimating that some 10.15 million people lived in areas under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

Waves slam the Oceana Pier & Pier House Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the area. The National Hurricane Center said Florence was "forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it nears the US coast late Thursday and Friday".

Hasan said the evacuees present special circumstances because they may not be seasoned travelers and might need extra attention. The slow forward motion means Florence will batter the area with heavy rainfall, producing up to 40 inches in coastal North Carolina and northeastern SC.

"People could be without power for a very long time, Not days, but weeks", David Fountain, president of Duke Energy North Carolina, told Axios Wednesday.

"We've had our lessons".

Gov. McMaster to order mandatory evacuations for SC coastal counties
NOAAAn NOAA map shows the probability of tropical-storm-force winds hitting the US East Coast between Sunday and Friday. The state's emergency management division has posted additional information on the evacuations and how to prepare.

Nearly two-thirds of the reported outages originated in Carteret County, along the coast about 100 miles northeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Yaser Hasan, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott Jacksonville at Interstate 295, said Wednesday morning the hotel is fully booked through Saturday and inquiries continue from evacuees about room availability.

People in areas vulnerable to the unsafe hurricane, particularly those in coastal regions, have fled ahead of the storm.

Byard again urged residents in danger zones to heed warnings to either evacuate or hunker down. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle.

The storm has pretty much followed the forecast track through now, but the issue will be Thursday or Friday as it nears the coast and the steering currents collapse.

If the European model is true or the overall trend persists, University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said it "is exceptionally bad news, as it smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

Early Thursday Florence was about 235 miles (378 kilometers) east southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 280 miles (450 kilometers) east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Some of those who stayed went to shelters while others stuck it out in their homes.Maysie Baumgardner, 7, and her family sheltered at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as Florence filled the streets with floodwaters.

"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said. "You feel like you should have already left".

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