Gov. Deal issues state of emergency ahead of storm - Updated Version

The storm strengthened from 130 mph to 140 mph and is Category 4 the NHC said

The storm strengthened from 130 mph to 140 mph and is Category 4 the NHC said

Hurricane Florence, now a Category 4, is on track to hit the U.S. East Coast early Thursday.

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall around Wilmington, N.C. Saturday morning, according to a National Weather Service projection released at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend.

It caused US$70.2 billion in damages, when adjusted for inflation, making it the fourth-most-destructive storm in US history, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", said Brad Corpening, 35, who planned to ride out the storm in his boarded-up delicatessen in Wilmington. Florence is expected to also be a rainmaker, with totals of 35 inches possible in some areas.

A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks.

More tips on hurricane preparation can be found at the National Weather Service's website.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long urged people to prepare for a "very devastating storm", with possibly weeks-long power outages.

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"The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you've ever seen".

North Carolina officials evacuated long-term care facilities and hundreds of prisoners in vulnerable areas, and also closed state parks, museums and other attractions. First, the storm is predicted to have a "life-threatening storm surge" at the coast.

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the hurricane center says. The video was taken on Tuesday as Florence churned across the Atlantic in a west-northwesterly direction with winds of 130 miles per hour.

Hurricane Helene is heading north to open sea off the coast of the USA and now poses no danger to land after the storm hit cooler waters in the Atlantic.

Michelle Stober loaded up valuables on Tuesday at her home on Wrightsville Beach to drive back to her primary residence in Cary, North Carolina.

"But as we put the tracker on you can see by tomorrow morning we're still anticipating this will strengthen into the neighbourhood of 150mph. We are sparing no expense", Trump told reporters in the Oval Office after meeting with Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Administration officials. Typically, local governments in the state make the call on evacuations.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Monday ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents.

"The biggest thing is you're always anxious about yourself and friends and family - and whether they'll have a place to come back to", he said.

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