Millions brace themselves as Hurricane Florence approaches US coast

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Even with some weakening that's predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a unsafe major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.

The video was taken on Tuesday as Florence churned across the Atlantic in a west-northwesterly direction with winds of 130 miles per hour.

Faced with new forecasts that showed a more southerly threat, Georgia's governor joined his counterparts in Virginia and North and SC in declaring a state of emergency, and some residents who had thought they were safely out of range boarded up their homes.

The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore.

People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes or get out of town.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence is now lashing the North Carolina coast with hurricane -force winds and a life-threatening storm surge.

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News that the storm could plow through SC after landfall came shortly after McMaster lifted his mandatory-evacuation order for Beaufort County and many other areas south of Charleston. "Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill".

"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the hurricane center says.

Reacting to the possibility of a more southerly track, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared an emergency but did not immediately order any evacuations.

Rain measured in feet is "looking likely", he said.

In addition to Florence, the Atlantic Ocean now has two other strong storms.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

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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.

Speaking about the Wilmington area and its surrounding beaches in North Carolina, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official said the inland flooding threat was "extreme".

Paula Matheson of Springfield, Oregon, got the full Southern experience during her 10-week RV vacation: hot weather, good food, attractive beaches and, finally, a hurricane evacuation. It took Matheson and her husband almost the whole day Monday to drive the 60 miles off the barrier island. "Eighty-five degrees", Matheson said, pausing a moment.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour (225 km per hour), Florence's trajectory showed its center most likely to strike the southern coast of North Carolina by Friday, the National Hurricane Center said. The downtown area was underwater.Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and tide rolled in, city public information officer Colleen Roberts said.

Florence's projected path includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in huge lagoons. Its hurricane-force winds extend up to 60 miles from the storm's center. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Governor Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.

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