Hurricane Florence: Carolinas brace for 'storm of lifetime'

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"So will the power lines, as the trees fall down".

Though Florence won't be making landfall until Friday, tropical-storm-force winds - 39 to 73 miles per hour (63 to 117 km/h) - will begin whipping through coastal regions as early as tomorrow, making it exceptionally unsafe to be outside, Graham said. More than one million people had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of North and SC and Virginia and thousands moved to emergency shelters, officials said.

The driving winds and pelting rain of Hurricane Florence's western edge began to batter the Carolinas Thursday evening, giving the region a taste of what's to come as the monster storm moves ashore Friday.

Jamie Thompson walks through flooded sections of East Front Street near Union Point Park in New Bern, N.C. Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate throughout Friday. The National Hurricane Center says it's now expected to hit Wilmington and then veer west, taking it south of Charlotte.

Some 7,000 guard members are ready to mobilize in North Carolina, while 1,100 will be activated in SC. They also have three dogs and three parrots.

"The magnitude of the storm is beyond what we have seen in years", said Howard Fowler, Duke Energy's incident commander. "Many that will accept them only allow one per room". "If they're telling you to leave, you have to leave", Graham said.

"Since my husband retired and my health declined, we have his retirement as an income". "I will enjoy the quiet", he said.

By late Thursday, people were, for better or for worse, locked into their decision: go or stay. But his partner, Emily Whisler, said she will remain behind at the university where she is a resident in the psychiatry program. It's a kind gesture but doesn't alleviate Browning's fear.

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"It's going to coming roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say 'I'm not sure I really want to do this and I'll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland, '" said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private Weather Underground. "But I think it'll be OK". One emergency official said it will be a "Mike Tyson punch" to the area. And there will be flooding in the inland areas as well. The National Hurricane Center is calling for 20 to 30 inches of rain in North Carolina, with spots up to 40 inches.

"A lot of our storefronts are boarded up", said Lynn Davis, town manager for Belhaven which sits at sea level in northeastern North Carolina.

Even miles away from the Atlantic, North Carolina residents in low-lying areas are boarding up and emptying stores.

Life-threatening storm surges of up to a staggering 13 feet in some places were also forecast.

"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said.

The massive storm is larger than North Carolina and South Carolina - combined, according to South Carolina Emergency Management.

NASA astronauts on the International Space Station described the hurricane as "menacing". NASA via AP In this September 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the US east coast as seen from the International Space Station.

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