Hurricane Florence is now barreling toward the East Coast and is forecast to bring, "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall... across portions of the Carolinas", according to NOAA's National Hurricane Center. Most of the North and SC coastlines are under storm surge and hurricane warnings or watches.
As of 11 p.m. EDT, Florence was centered about 50 miles south of Morehead, North Carolina, and 70 miles east-south-east of Wilmington, NC, moving at 5 mph.
The Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 mph is expected to produce 20 to 30 inches of rain in the coast North Carolina area, and 5 to 10 inches in western SC and northern North Carolina, per the National Weather Service. For those in any region that is forecasted to get around or above 4 to 6 inches of rain, take special note.
"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.
Shepard Smith and Flaherty said reports showed storm surge from the system is likely to be felt dozens of miles inland, including along the Neuse River Basin - which stretches inward from New Bern toward Rocky Mount and Nashville, N.C.
Elder relatives carry as much weight as meteorologists in a tight-knit community of slave descendants on the SC coast.
The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper predicted tens of thousands of homes and businesses would be flooded in his state.More news: 9/11 anniversary: Russian bombers intercepted near Alaska by U.S. fighter jets
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More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm approached, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.
When Hurricane Matthew made landfall in 2014, Benson and her family stayed because it was only a Category 1 storm.
"Heed the warnings", said Byard, adding there was "well over $20 billion" in FEMA's disaster relief fund.
Wilmington, North Carolina, just north of where the hurricane is expected to come ashore, was sunny around midday yesterday as the town appeared to be emptying.
"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said. A NOAA buoy located about 100 miles northeast of Florence's eye recently reported a sustained wind of 53 mph (85 km/h) and a gust to 74 mph (119 km/h).
First responders around the country are making their way to Wrightsville Beach.