Still unsafe, Cat 2 Florence expected to make landfall south of Wilmington

Renoir stolen by Nazis returned to rightful owner                         Read more

Renoir stolen by Nazis returned to rightful owner Read more

Hurricane Florence was on course Wednesday to deliver a devastating blow to the east coast of the United States, with millions urged to flee inland hours before it was due to announce its arrival with torrential downpours.

Duke Energy officials say Florence will knock out power to an estimated 1 million to 3 million customers in North and SC. Landfall could take place Friday or Saturday morning at this point.

TRT World's Nicole Johnston is on the coast in Wilmington, North Carolina, where people are preparing for the worst.

The National Hurricane Center is still predicting a storm surge of 9 to 13 feel along the coast and in the Pamlico Sound and area rivers.

Predictions are for Florence to be far more violent storm.

The Florida National Guard has "Zodiac" boats built for high-water rescues, but states will generally request help from areas less prone to hurricanes in an effort to preserve resources.

If winds get too strong, officers will be pulled off the roads.

'GET OUT OF ITS WAY!': 'Monster' Hurricane Florence aims to drench Carolinas
Similar declarations were made earlier in North and South Carolina , Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia . The European Model projects that Florence will track a bit further south, bringing more severe weather to SC .

Experts say the lagoons should be able to handle about 3 feet of rain, but hog farmers, who have been trying to pump manure out of the ponds and spray it on fields as fertilizer, aren't convinced.

Michelle Stober loaded up valuables at her home on Wrightsville Beach to drive back to her primary residence in Cary, North Carolina. A lot of people hearing this are remembering Hurricane Hugo in 1989. "If they're telling you to leave, you have to leave", Graham said.

Preparations to evacuate the facility's residents had begun late last week, days before South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) issued mandatory evacuation orders. As of Wednesday evening, the surf was already picking up. "If this blows at 120 mph for four hours, ... you lose a shingle every two minutes, and all of the sudden, you've lost your whole roof after four hours", Myers said.

Marshall: When should we now expect landfall along the coast?

North Carolina farms are moving livestock to safety. State parks and museums across the region closed, while prisoners in state and county jails were moved out of the storm's path and given a free phone call to family.

Eventually, Florence will veer north into the Appalachian Mountains, bringing soaking rains to Virginia and western North Carolina, before sputtering out late next week near DE and Maryland, the FWS reported. Monitor WRAL's closings page for updates.

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