Hurricane Florence weakens, but still a strong flood threat

Shelves at a store in Raleigh North Carolina emptied of supplies as people stock up ahead of Hurricane Florence

With Hurricane Florence, numerous coastline will see water levels from the storm surge rise over 3 feet, with some families seeing over 9 feet of water near their homes.

Experts say the lagoons should be able to handle about 3 feet of rain, but hog farmers, who have been trying to pump manure out of the ponds and spray it on fields as fertilizer, aren't convinced.

Forecasters said wind speeds have dropped from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) to 110 miles per hour (175 kph), reducing it from a Category 4 storm to a Category 2, and additional fluctuations and weakening were likely as it swirled toward land.

The agency has warned of "life-threatening" storm surges along the south-eastern seaboard and freshwater flooding due to a "prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event".

As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.

According to the NHC forecast at 5 p.m. on September 12, the storm is forecast to slow down near the coast of North and SC before it passes over the states and into Georgia.

That high-pressure dome aloft over the western Atlantic is now expected to weaken Thursday into Friday.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.

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St. Helena Island near the South Carolina-Georgia line is used to riding out big storms - from one that killed an estimated 2,000 people in 1893 to Tropical Storm Irma past year.

Duke Energy Corp expected between 25 percent and 75 percent of its 4 million customers would lose power in the Carolinas.

Elder relatives carry as much weight as meteorologists in a tight-knit community of slave descendants on the SC coast. Mandatory evacuations have been issued for much of the SC and North Carolina coastline.

Early on Friday, the downtown area of the city of New Bern, on the Trent and Neuse rivers near the North Carolina coast, was underwater as emergency crews conducted several rescues, according to reports on social media.

At 8:00 pm (0000 GMT), the eye of the storm was 335 miles (540 kms) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph). "We just need to figure out how to make it through".

Officials in New Hanover County, which includes Wilmington, have stockpiled enough food and water for 60,000 people for four days, along with more than 28,000 tarps.

"I've never seen the president and all these other people talk the way they're talking", he said while waiting for an evacuation bus.

"It's going to be bad", said Woody White, chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners. And the more it hovers just off shore - a distinct possibility - the more potentially deadly storm surge it pushes on-shore. "But no matter how bad it's going to be, it will pass and our job will be to rebuild this community together, and that's what we're going to do". "People are taking down awnings and U-Haul trucks have come in and take the entire contents of stores".

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