America's National Weather Service has warned that the storm is likely to bring, "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding" when it hits land on Thursday or Friday.
To hasten evacuations from coastal SC, officials switched traffic patterns so that all major roads led away from shore. "A lot of local people are staying", she said of the island, which is reachable only by ferry or plane.
"He said that the federal government would be there for North Carolina, and we're certainly going to depend on that". To reach Category 5 status, the storm will have to blow sustained winds above 157 miles per hour (253 km/h). Lennon, the chair of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Department at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, says the biggest mistake during Hurricane Katrina - which claimed 1,833 lives - was that officials only ordered evacuations 24 hours before it hit New Orleans in 2005, and by then it was too late.
ABC News Rainfall could be as much as 40 inches locally along the North Carolina coast
Tropical storm force winds are in the 39 miles per hour to 73 miles per hour range, says NOAA.
Even without the extreme wind speeds of a Category 5 storm, though, Hurricane Florence is likely to be a serious and life-threatening storm, Cline said.
The storm is now around 400 miles south of Bermuda and is moving at 16 mph (26 kph).
Utility companies deployed crews and gear in advance, according to trade group, the Edison Electric Institute.
Watches in effect Tuesday forecast a storm surge of up to 12 feet at high tide from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout in North Carolina.
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Crews also prepared 16 nuclear reactors in the three-state region for the storm.
As Hurricane Florence charges toward the Carolinas, airlines are canceling hundreds of flights and issuing waivers to affected travelers. A hospital in Hampton, Virginia, was transferring patients to safer places. A year ago, people would have laughed off such a forecast, but the European model was accurate in predicting 60 inches for Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, so "you start to wonder what these models know that we don't", said University of Miami hurricane expert Brian McNoldy.
Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.
But as Trump warned about the dangers posed by Florence, he took time to praise the government's response to 2017's Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, which he called "incredibly successful". Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm. ABC reported that Boeing has stopped its operations in SC because of the threat.
"Residents in central North Carolina should be prepared to feel the impact of the storm from Thursday night through at least Monday due to threat of flooding and widespread and prolonged power outages", Gov. Cooper said.
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People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes or get out of town. Some gasoline stations also ran low on fuel.
Her home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, is at risk for flooding, and her family and nearby relatives will ride out the storm in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"Where alse can we go? We are ready for the big one that is coming!"
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