Roy Cooper: 'Today, the threat becomes reality' as Hurricane Florence approaches coast

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Despite the drop in wind strength, the most unsafe threat comes from Florence's rains and storm surge, which could bring flooding far inland.

The hurricane is located about 165 miles (270 km) east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles per hour (165 km per hour), it added. Hurricane-force winds were blowing 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds reached up to 195 miles (315 kilometers) from the eye.

Faced with new forecasts that showed a more southerly threat, Georgia's governor joined his counterparts in Virginia and North and SC in declaring a state of emergency, and some residents who had thought they were safely out of range boarded up their homes.

Windows and doors are boarded up in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Florence September 12, 2018 in Morehead City, North Carolina.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate and authorities urged them to get going before the streets become inundated.

Wrightsville Beach Mayor William Blair says evacuations are complete. "Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm".

By the time it leaves, it's expected to have unloaded 10 trillion gallons of rainfall in North Carolina, meteorologist Ryan Maue said.

Airlines cancelled about 1,200 flights and counting, and some airports in the Carolinas virtually shut down.

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Mayor Joe Benson said the storm will batter the oceanside town through two high tide periods. The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore. Both North Carolina and SC are updating their lists of emergency shelters for people caught out by the storm. "You could see storm surge as high as nine or 13 feet".

"But I'm not afraid", he said. The more the Great Lakes one wins, the more southerly Florence will be. The couple said they would have had to travel too far inland to find a hotel that would have accepted their animals as guests. "We're ready and God will watch over us".

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.

The forecast calls for as much as 40 inches (102 centimetres) of rain over seven days along the coast, with the deluge continuing even as the centre of the storm pushes its way over the Appalachian Mountains.

If the European model is true or the overall trend persists, University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said it "is exceptionally bad news, as it smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

With South Carolina's beach towns now more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand. Most other beachgoers were long gone.

The governor says there's a real concern for some communities in the Peach State. "You feel like you should have already left".

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