More than 20,000 on NC coast already without power from Florence gusts

A National Guardsman directs traffic onto U.S. Highway 501 as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast Wednesday Sept. 12 2018 near Conway S.C. Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence a monster of a storm

The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Florence to a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour expected.

The flooding soon spread into SC, swamping places like North Myrtle Beach, in a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses. Wind damage is expected as well, with hurricane-force sustained winds and wind gusts topping 100 miles per hour in some places.

"We may be facing a situation where hurricane-force winds are weaker than anticipated but perhaps impacting a slightly broader region than once thought", he said. It is moving northwest at 6 miles per hour.

After reaching a terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph (225 kph) earlier in the week, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles (kilometers) east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.

Members of the Missouri Search and Rescue, part of FEMA, unload their gear at a staging area as Hurricane Florence starts to make landfall in Lealand, North Carolina, Sept. 13, 2018.

The hurricane is expected to make landfall around Wilmington on Friday morning. More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury.

"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.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds across the state.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably a 7" in terms of worry, she said.

After appearing headed toward the North Carolina-Virginia border at one point, Florence shifted south and is now taking aim at the Carolinas.

"This is a very unsafe storm", said FEMA's Long, urging people still in evacuation zones to heed orders to flee to safer ground.

"We consider our students anyone across nine states in the Southeast, many of whom may live in the coastal areas of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia-all of which are affected by the path of Hurricane Florence".

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A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia and the U.S. capital Washington. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on the federal level Tuesday for the Carolinas and Virginia.

"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard, that trying to get out we got thrown into trailers".

He said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 200 miles out.

A hurricane warning is in effect for South Santee River, SC, north to Duck, NC, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.

"Storm surge and massive flooding - both are going to be extreme". With Florence, the potential for deaths by drowning comes from the storm surge as well as incredibly heavy rainfall. However, the surge is expected to be accompanied by large and destructive waves, regardless of when the storm arrives.

The worst may come as the gargantuan storm swirls past the shore and dumps days of rain on mountainous interiors, potentially creating disastrous mudslides.

The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm.

This isn't the first storm the Mramers have waited out.

"If it was a Category Four and we were going to get a direct hit, yes, we wouldn't be here". By 10 a.m., the end of the Oceanana Pier had always been swaying, rocking back and forth a few feet each way, every time a powerful wave came crashing through it. Gusts of wind were powerful enough to make sitting in a parked vehicle feel like riding through turbulence in an airplane.

Tropical Storm Isaac is also moving westward across the eastern Caribbean. "Soybeans have just begun harvesting in the very far eastern part of North Carolina but have not begun anywhere else in the state".

Other officials have warned the storm could also bring landslides to SC. "A storm can come and wipe your house out overnight". The National Weather Center upgraded Subtropical Storm Joyce to Tropical Storm Joyce in its 11 p.m. Thursday update. It's forecast to gradually turn toward the northeast on Friday and then accelerate northeastward over the weekend. The NHC is encouraging officials in northeastern Mexico, Texas and Louisiana to monitor its progress.

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