The National Hurricane Center said in an advisory Thursday night that a storm surge of 10 feet above normal level had already been reported by the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, N.C. Rainfall of up to 40 inches could occur in isolated areas of North and SC.
As of Thursday afternoon the storm was generating sustained winds of 105mph, as storm surge water has begun to rush into homes and streets along beachside communities. It is now at Category 1.
Avair Vereen, her fiance and one of her seven children at a shelter in Conway, South Carolina yesterday as several states along the U.S. eastern coast were bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Florence.
He wrote: "Live along areas of the North/South Carolina coast, ordered to evacuate and not going to do it?" North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.
"Storm surge and massive flooding - both are going to be extreme".
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned residents not to "underestimate" the storm.
In New Bern, at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers in North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000. River flooding, power outages and road closures likely will extend well into next week.
Florence, now a Category 2 storm, is lumbering toward the North Carolina coast northeast of Myrtle Beach, bringing 105 miles-per-hour winds.
North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters), enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).
"The only reason we're still here is because we have a 7-month-old baby with us", she said. "We just bought a new house so I'm kinda nervous". "But we can't replace us so we made a decision to come here".
By mid-afternoon the winds had dropped to 75 miles per hour (120 kph) and the centre was moving west at 6 miles per hour (10 kph), the NHC said, and parts of North and SC would get as much as 40 inches of rain (1 metre).
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It is expected to make landfall on Friday morning, local time (late Friday, early Saturday AEST). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers). Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches (one meter) of rain, forecasters said.
"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the hurricane center said.
With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand.
"Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said.
The state's officials say more than 400,000 people have evacuated the coast and more than 4000 people have taken refuge in shelters as the storm approaches.
A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia and the USA capital Washington.
Utility companies are predicting power outages that could reach between one-to-three million across both North and SC for days and possibly weeks.
Storm swell is predicted to reach almost 4 metres in height near the coastal cities of Wilmington and Jacksonville, absolutely devastating structures in the region.
"I told him that we appreciate all the efforts at the federal level", Saffo said. "I learned from the past to keep the ice in the washing machine".
"But I'm not afraid", he said. "The only thing missing in there is a hot lady". "I charged the batteries of my electronic devices, I have beers and video games".