Hurricane Florence starts flooding parts of the Carolinas

Tony Winborne 37 looks at a computer in a Hurricane Florence evacuation shelter where he says it's

Hurricane Florence, which is nearing the US East Coast, could kill "a lot of people", officials warn.

The latest weather predictions show the storm slowing to a near standstill as it pummels the coast with "copious amounts of rain" from Thursday night to Saturday, said Mr Long.

Experts agreed that despite Florence losing some power, it was still poised to sow just as much destruction - if not more.

The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.

Mr Schleifstein also advised people to "keep an axe" in their attic, in case people break in after the storm.

Given the likelihood of rain being measured in feet, rather than inches with Florence, widespread inland urban, small stream and major river flooding are anticipated in the Carolinas.

"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.

Almost 1.8million people have been ordered to evacuate from coastal areas.

Hurricane-force winds are getting closer to North Carolina's Outer Banks and the coastal southeastern portion of the state, the NHC said.

The fates of the region's furry, feathered and finned friends were also up in the air, as staffers scrambled to secure zoos, aquariums and animal shelters.

"We are now still beyond the three day prediction envelope and the cone of uncertainty that we have of where the storm will go is very big so I'm really hesitant to make any predictions about what it's going to be like here in Western North Carolina", says Young.

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Surges of 10 feet had been reported early Friday Morehead City and elsewhere in North Carolina, the National Weather Service said. Florence's landfall - when the center of the eye reaches land - is likely to happen midmorning Friday, CNN forecasters said.

Zookeepers and veterinarians resolved to hunker down with the creatures and see them through the storm.

More than 22,600 people in North Carolina were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena. "That's why we're begging for assistance". The vivid presentation - powered by the Unreal Engine, most commonly used in video games - seems likely to serve as a more pressing demonstration of the storm's threat than a mere written warning, and that's vitally important for folks in impacted areas.

Some people, such as Jennie, are refusing to heed evacuation warnings.

Empty stores and packed houses alike sit boarded up and bolstered with sandbags, and the streets are empty with curfews in effect in many areas.

After landfall, the storm is expected to linger over the area for a few days, which would result in rising river levels and lakes.

Even the thousands of emergency workers on scene - ranging from power workers to National Guardsmen to cops, many of them volunteers from across the country - could only sit and wait for Florence to do its worst before they could do their best.

"We're recommending people to stay here".

New Bern's mayor told CNN that 4,200 homes were damaged in the city. "They need to shelter in place".

The police chief of a barrier island in Florence's bulls'-eye said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave.

"For our customers, I know they normally expect to see us immediately after the storm rolls through, but it's not safe for us to be out there working", he said.

Winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence moved in for an extended stay, with enough of its killer winds swirling overseas to maintain its power.

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