Florence's rain will reach 40 inches in some parts of the Carolinas, and gusty winds will send the ocean and rivers spilling into neighborhoods, forecasters said. And she has seen reports of people fleeing to rooftops to escape high floodwaters.
From Thursday night through Sunday morning, CNN reported that Florence would travel only 150 miles, or slower than the average walking pace of 2-3 mph.
It is an "absolutely a personal decision" to stay or go, Lori Crouch, a spokesperson for the city said. The Army Corps of Engineers were preparing to start work restoring power, installing temporary roofing and removing debris. "Lots of water, lots of wind, lots of storm surge".
30 foot waves were recorded off North Carolina's coast early this morning, with forecasters warning that conditions are set to deteriorate as the hurricane makes landfall. It is expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.
North Carolina's governor, Roy Cooper, said Florence was set to cover nearly all of the state in several feet of water.
Hurricane Florence will be one of the biggest storms to make landfall along the United States eastern seaboard in decades.
Florence had been downgraded to a Category One hurricane before landfall, and is forecast to significantly weaken as it moves across central South Carolina Saturday.
Still, he said: "I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth".
Hurricane Florence approaches the U.S. Southeast Coast, where it is expected to make landfall on the border between North and SC this morning (Sept. 14), according to NOAA.
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"We know we're in for a long haul here", Cooper said of predictions that the storm will linger over the area.
The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.
More than 60 people were rescued from a collapsing hotel in North Carolina overnight.
Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed. Hundreds more were rescued elsewhere from rising water.
More than a million people were ordered to leave the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia, with over 12,000 taking refuge in emergency shelters.
Emergency preparations in the region included activating 2,800 National Guard troops in North Carolina, stockpiling food, setting up shelters, switching traffic patterns so major roads led away from shore, and securing 16 nuclear power reactors in the Carolinas and Virginia.
Craven County public information officer Amber Parker says the storm surge has caused flooding in some downtown New Bern businesses, and Union Park is underwater.
Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.
"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.