News crews prepare to cover Hurricane Florence along the coast

Hurricane Florence seen here early Thursday morning was downgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm

Hurricane Florence seen here early Thursday morning was downgraded from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm

The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm but said life-threatening storm surges and catastrophic freshwater flooding were expected over portions of North and SC.

Hurricane Florence has only just begun to wreak havoc along the Carolina coastlines, but already people are capturing absolutely shocking footage of the storm surges from the category 2 hurricane.

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

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned people not to take the storm's earlier downgrade as a sign the situation is no longer as risky. "Please keep that in mind", and consider leaving soon, Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said midmorning Thursday. "Today the threat becomes a reality", he said. The probability slightly decreased to 28 percent for the storm to bring 39 miles per hour winds to Chatham County over the coming five days. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet of rain, touching off severe flooding.

"This storm will bring destruction to North Carolina", Cooper said.

Forecasters are predicting the massive storm's relentless rains have the potential to produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding while also contributing to the potential for landslides across the mountains.

SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

An estimated 10 million people live in the storm's path, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center, and coastal businesses and homes were boarded up in anticipation.

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"Sometime Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning", Goldstein said. Millions were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks. "I'm a little bit scared right now", she said, "but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix".

"We're keeping some people late until about 8 o'clock tonight in case things happen, and then we're bringing the next shift in, and they'll be here through the night", he said.

"With this storm, it's a (Category 1) but the storm surge and the flooding is going to be that of a category 4", CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Gray said Thursday night.

So far, a state of emergency has been declared in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland and Washington DC.

On North Carolina's Outer Banks, water flowed through streets and between beachfront homes, and some of the few people still left in Nags Head took photos of angry waves topped with white froth.

"I built this house myself, so I'm not anxious at all, I know it's solid", he said.

It was unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.

Ken Graham, the director of the NHC, said: "It truly is really about the whole size of this storm". "I've got four cats inside the house".

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