Hundreds more flights canceled as Florence nears the Carolina coastal area

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More than 80,000 people are already without power, and forecasters have warned that conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore in the early hours of Friday morning.

Officials warn of life-threatening storm surges in North and SC as the hurricane moves towards land with maximum sustained wind speeds of 90mph (150 km/h).

The outer reaches of Hurricane Florence began lashing coastal North Carolina with heavy winds and flooded roads on Thursday ahead of an expected landfall that will bring walls of water and lingering downpours to parts of the US East Coast.

Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million to 3 million outages.

Several million people could lose power by the time Florence sloshes its way through the state. "We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband.

The National Weather Service forecasts minor to major flooding along rivers anywhere from the Carolinas to Maryland in the coming days.

A North Carolina city situated between two rivers says it has around 150 people waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters from Hurricane Florence.

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"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired nonprofit director. It is forecast to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday Friday.

Two detention facilities in SC that are within government-mandated evacuation zones will not relocate inmates ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall there.

At least 88,000 people were without power in North Carolina with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to the state's emergency management agency.

And there are reports of another storm in the Pacific, too.

Still, a storm surge can overwhelm the animals, as it did in 2003 when Hurricane Isabel killed five horses and swept three others a few miles away. We will have tropical storm force winds and rain and storm surge continues to be our main concern with extreme flooding.

Roy Cooper urged residents in evacuation areas of his state to get out while they still can.

It is the storm's movement and not its strength that has forecasters and officials anxious. In the tiny community of Sea Breeze near Wilmington, Roslyn Fleming, 56, made a video of the inlet where her granddaughter was baptized because "I just don't think a lot of this is going to be here" later. "The anxiety level has dropped substantially", Epperson said. "I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked".

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