Surge, wind, rain, floods: Hurricane Florence could hit hard

Hurricane Florence Set To Hit US East Coast

North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland are all under a state of emergency as the "monster" storm has forced governors to order mass evacuations for their millions of residents. Watches were in effect Tuesday for a storm surge that could reach up to 12 feet at high tide on a stretch from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout in North Carolina, forecasters said.

Sharp doesn't like to compare hurricanes because each one is different, but he did note that Florence is a stronger storm than Matthew, which hit the state in 2016. "It's going to dump amounts of water that some of these areas haven't seen in a long, long time".

"Some strengthening is expected during the next day or so, and Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday night".

Amtrak is canceling rail service to locations south of Washington, D.C. starting Wednesday and continuing through the weekend; starting Thursday, the Northeast Regional service will only run trains north of the capital.

The alerts also mean risky storm surges are likely along the coast and heavy, sustained rains could cause life-threatening flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned. "The forecast shows Florence stalling over North Carolina, bringing days and days of rain".

The slow-moving storm, the most severe hurricane to threaten the US mainland this year, was located about 785 miles (1,260 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT), according to the NHC.

Florence could be only the second Category 4 storm to pummel the Carolinas since 1800, when record-keeping began.

A shop owner boards up his Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, building.

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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said an estimated 1 million people would be fleeing his state's coast, with eastbound Interstate 26 heading into Charleston and US 501 heading into Myrtle Beach reversed to ease the exodus.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) warned that people should make sure to include their pets in any emergency plans in preparation for the storm, even though the organization remains "ready to assist".

FEMA is under close scrutiny this year after the agency admitted it was "underprepared" Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico last year.

Residents prepared by boarding up their homes and stocking up on food, water and other essentials, stripping many grocery store shelves of merchandise.

Not everyone was in a hurry to leave.

Another said: "We will see what happens and hopefully we have a business to come back to".

Nuclear power plants in the area were preparing for the storm, with Duke Energy Corp's Brunswick and Harris plants in North Carolina's were most likely to be affected, said U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah.

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