Hurricane Florence Charleston: Latest Forecast & Track

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Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

The National Hurricane Centre said a gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 6.3 feet (1.92 metres) of inundation. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".

Florence was registering as a Category 4 storm earlier in the week but has since been downgraded to a Category 1 storm.

Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were inundated.

Waves slam the Oceana Pier & Pier House Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 as Hurricane Florence approaches the area.

The center said the threat of freshwater flooding will increase over the next several days.

North Carolina is now facing the brunt of the storm, though that's likely to change since weather forecasts predict Florence will head inland before moving north, towards Virginia and Maryland.

It is the storm's movement and not its strength that has forecasters and officials anxious.

The hurricane has been moving at only 3-6 miles per hour as it drops torrential rains.

Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the hurricane center said.

As Hurricane Florence slams North Carolina, the riverfront city of New Bern is already feeling the impacts.

Even before making landfall near Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 a.m., Florence had already caused almost 400,000 power outages in North Carolina and almost 4,400 more in SC.

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She says people often want to get outside and take pictures.

People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro, N.C., September 13, 2018. The system is expected to bring its gusty winds, which extend some 140 miles from its center, and heavy rains to the Azores, according to the National Hurricane Center. Two amphibious Navy ships are on standby to respond and provide disaster relief after Florence moves through.

Numerous communities throughout the region have issued either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders.

"The idea of having to leave with my two cats and go somewhere for a week or more. once you leave, you don't know how many days it will be before you can return", a Wilmington resident named Kate tells VOA.

"I've never seen this relentless push of water like this is", he said.

In Myrtle Beach, ABC correspondent Pete Combs painted a starker picture of those who made a decision to stay in place.

President Donald Trump has said protecting lives is his "absolute highest priority" and that the White House is standing by to offer affected states whatever help they ask for.

"Watch out, America! #HurricaneFlorence is so enormous, we could only capture her with a super wide-angle lens from the @Space_Station, 400 km directly above the eye", German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted.

On Wednesday, he posted a video on his Twitter account, declaring: "We're fully prepared - food medical, everything you can imagine - we are ready".

The NHC said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as Florence neared shore and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the heavy rain could trigger landslides in the west of his state.

Downpours and flooding would be especially severe, lasting for days, if the storm stalls over land.

But, knowing the intensity of Florence's impact on Myrtle Beach, "My friends are worrying me right now", Combs said.

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