Carolina coast braces for 'Mike Tyson punch' from hurricane

Carolina coast braces for 'Mike Tyson punch' from hurricane

Florence is expected to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday (Sept. 13 or 14), likely as a Category 3 hurricane, meaning it will have winds blowing at a minimum of 111 miles per hour (178 km/h), Samson said.

As of 8am local time, it was centred about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 220 miles east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving north west at 12mph.

"Heed the warnings", said Byard, adding there was "well over $20 billion" in FEMA's disaster relief fund.

Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.

Emergency workers monitor hurricane progress at the Emergency operations centre in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Forecasts generally project Florence to make landfall in southeastern North Carolina on Friday as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse.

In New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000 which is located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.

With Hurricane Florence bearing down on the East Coast, is it time for a radical rethink on what it means to be prepared?

Henry McMaster lifted the mandatory evacuation order for Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton counties Tuesday morning.

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Florence is rated a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

The storm was heading for the coast of the two states but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.

President Donald Trump has declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, which frees up the way for federal aid.

Florence is now heading for ocean water that has surface temperatures of about 85 degrees, meaning it will most likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.

People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways Wednesday as Florence bore down for a direct hit in the low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.

More than 1.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate coastal areas ahead of the storm because of both destructive winds and a storm surge that could place normally dry land under at least 10 feet of water. She said it will become a "major flooding event".

On Wednesday morning, Florence was extending hurricane-force winds outward up to 70 miles from its center, with tropical-storm-force winds up to 175 miles outward.

As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency 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.

"Just because we have a landfall to your south, that doesn't mean you're out of the woods, because the winds are huge around this system", NHC Director Ken Graham said, pointing out the wide risk of flooding.

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