Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the floodwaters. "You're going to have flooding miles and miles inland", the center's director, Ken Graham, said Friday morning.
Marson said they'd lost power and the winds were howling outside, but they had enough food and water to last them for days.
The storm surge is going to be potentially life-threatening for some areas along the United States coastline.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland.
The deadliest and most destructive element of any hurricane, the storm surge from Florence could flood tens of thousands of structures, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday.
As Hurricane Florence makes landfall in the Carolinas, U.S. President Donald Trump Friday tweeted his support for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), first responders and law enforcement, stating that they are doing an "incredible job".
More than 10 million people live in areas under warnings or watches for hurricane- or tropical storm- force winds, CNN reports.
Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2.
"I had a lot of fear initially but I'm glad to be inside and safe", said Zelda Allen, a 74-year-old retired tax accountant from Hampstead, North Carolina, who was riding out the storm at Wilmington's Hotel Ballast with her husband.
"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said.
The National Hurricane Centre said: "A NOAA observing site at Cape Lookout, North Carolina, recently reported a sustained wind of 68 miles per hour (109 km/h) and a gust to 90 miles per hour (145 km/h)".
Rescue crews in Onslow County helped evacuate 70 people from a Jacksonville hotel early Friday after the roof collapsed and rain rushed in.
The rising sea crept toward the two-story home of Tom Copeland, who lives on a spit of land surrounded by water in Swansboro.
More than 722,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said.
About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.
Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire. Deadly storm surges, flooding and inland rainfall are expected to cause significant damage as well. As the recovery from past storms continues in many rural towns, the next storm is about to strike.
"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said. He made a plan B: if the water reached the house, he'd take the pets upstairs to the second floor.
Wednesday, keen-eyed WFMY staffers noticed there were dozens of Facebook events with ill-advised but hilarious ways to beat the storm, from suggesting we yell "Fake News!" at the hurricane to playing our saxophones in that general direction.
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