Hurricane Florence: Carolinas brace for 'storm of lifetime'

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More than 20,000 residents and businesses in eastern counties are without power, according to online updates from Duke Energy and the N.C. Electric Cooperatives.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, that a "historic storm" would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state.

In certain parts of the North Carolina and South Carolina coastline (particularly the Wilmington, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC area), storm surges are predicted to be higher than ten feet.

Almost 2 million coastal residents are now under mandatory evacuation orders, although it remains unclear how many have actually done so.

"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.

"To those in the storm's path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said at a news conference in Raleigh, adding that Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days".

A storm surge of 10 feet has been reported in North Carolina by the National Weather Service office in Morehead City.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is imposing a 12-hour curfew from 19:00 local time on Thursday. CoreLogic noted at the time of its advisory that SC is not included in the table as it is not expected to exceed tropical storm force winds based on the projected track.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", NHC said.

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

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Florence is forecast to significantly weaken as it crawls across central South Carolina Saturday.

Vereen was taking that recommendation at face value - she and her children live in a mobile home in an open field, with nothing to protect it from the hurricane.

One electricity company fears that three-quarters of its four million customers will lose power as a result of the storm, and may not be reconnected for weeks.

Authorities typically say those who ignore evacuation orders are "on their own" should an emergency occur before first responders can be deployed.

Allison James who lives in Huntersville, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina said that based on reports this area would not be directly affected.

"I end up hearing more negative stories about leaving than staying", Mrs. Mramer said.

In Wilmington, residents who had decided not to evacuate were lining up to get ice from a vending machine - $2 for a 16-pound (7.2-kilo) bag.

Another Wilmington resident said she does not want to leave because she is afraid to see what she would be coming back to. "I learned from the past to keep the ice in the washing machine".

"I built this house myself, so I'm not anxious at all, I know it's solid", he said.

"The only thing missing in there is a hot lady".

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