Timeline of storm shows North Carolina set for DIRECT HIT

039;We're on the wrong side of this thing,' North Carolina governor warns as destructive hurricane bears down

Florence's winds had dropped from a peak of 225 kph to 165 kph by midmorning, reducing the hurricane from a Category 4 to a Category 2.

But forecasters warned that the widening storm - and the likelihood of it lingering around the coast for days - would bring seawater surging on to land and torrential downpours.

"If you are in an area that is on the National Hurricane Center (NHC) website you can take a look at the storm surge map - you can see what area you are in". The family is hoping for the best, given the potential threats the hurricane poses to lives and properties.

"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Duke Energy is expected anywhere from 1-3 million power outages across the Carolinas due to the storm. "Please heed the warnings", Mr Brock said: "Your time is running out".

Hurricane-force winds, which stretch up to 80 miles from the storm's center, will be felt in North and SC by Thursday night.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina, and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds - including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. Then, it will likely hover along the coast on Saturday (Sunday NZT), pushing up to 4m of storm surge and dumping 50 to 75cm of rain on both states, before slogging over the Appalachian Mountains.

The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm.

The police chief of a barrier island in Florence's bulls'-eye said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave. "I hope we don't but that might be the only thing that would affect us", James said.

"Don't relax, don't get complacent". Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill.

"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said.

Hurricane Florence, a large storm with sustained wind speeds of 110 miles per hour (175 km/h), is expected to make landfall somewhere on the North or SC coast Thursday and then move inland, affecting travel along the coastal regions as well as landlocked cities like Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham.

Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week.

It is unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were urged to evacuate.

Airlines had also canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting. The shopping list for people who have chose to ride out the storm at home: plywood to board up their windows, sandbags, bilge pumps, generators, trash bags, potato chips, bottled water and wine. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

An estimated 10 million people live in the storm's path, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center, and coastal businesses and homes were boarded up in anticipation.

Frustrated after evacuating his beach home for a storm that has since been downgraded, retired nurse Frederick Fisher grumbled in the lobby of a hotel in Wilmington several miles inland.

"As soon as a storm is about to hit, all traffic stops in and out of the area until the storm calms down and the roads are clear", she says.

"We already bought candles, batteries, can food items, water and so on. If I can't get back in a week, after a while they might turn on each other or trash the place".

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