At least five people have been killed so far in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence which was downgraded Friday afternoon to a tropical storm with winds of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) along the U.S. East Coast.
By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakened to 70 mph as it moved forward at 3 mph about 15 miles north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
"While Florence's maximum winds are expected to weaken a little, it is still expected to remain a unsafe major hurricane as it approaches the coast", they warned in a Wednesday mid-day update.
"The longer you have this hurricane wind flow, the longer you push that water well inland", he said.
A family enjoys the surf ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Oak Island, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.
The hurricane center said the large amount of rainfall "will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding".
Governor Roy Cooper has warned of an impending disaster. "Disaster is at the doorstep and it's coming in". Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachians, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".
SC will look to add a 12th game to its schedule later this season.
"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coastline". Tracking service GasBuddy says that has led to a run on gas stations that left about 5 percent of all service stations in North Carolina out of gasoline by Wednesday.
At least 25 million residents are at risk from the storm and experts predict its current path could cause up to $170 billion worth of damage, hit up to 759,000 homes and businesses and become the costliest storm to ever hit the U.S.
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.
The storm's first casualties included a mother and her baby, who died when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina.
"We may have 60% of the tobacco harvested in North Carolina". Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.
Wilmington, just north of where Florence appeared headed for shore, grew empty and quiet on Wednesday. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different. "It's going to happen". "Little rough but we're all out", a tweet said.
Hurricane Florence crashed into the Carolinas on Friday, knocking down trees and swamping streets with torrential rains and a powerful storm surge, before slowing to a pace that meant it would plague the area with days of flooding.
"I've never seen the president and all these other people talk the way they're talking", he said while waiting for an evacuation bus.