USA hurricane could kill 'a lot of people'

Instead of evacuating some people are kicking back with beer and pizza

"We're looking at tropical-storm force winds in our area for several hours, and that can cause a lot of damage - not to mention the rain we're looking at".

"We can not underestimate this storm".

The storm's center was about 110 miles (180 km) east of Wilmington, North Carolina, at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) but tropical storm-strength winds and heavy rains already were hitting North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands.

Florence was 155 miles (250km) east of Myrtle Beach in SC at 17:00 EDT (21:00 GMT), and is projected to make landfall on Friday at 08:00 local time.

Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning".

Two women who were riding out the storm dance to the music outside the Barbary Coast bar in downtown Wilmington, N.C., as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast, September 13, 2018.

By midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington.

But Norfolk spokeswoman Lori Crouch said city officials would not force people to leave and that it's a "personal choice", the AP reported.

There are fears that this storm could cause damage similar to what Houston suffered during Hurricane Harvey previous year, when homes and businesses were inundated with floodwater.

"There's already water (in the) bottom part of people's houses", Todd Willis, who lives in Kennel Beach, North Carolina, said Thursday night.

"There's going to be really nowhere for anybody to go", said Chief House with Wrightsville Beach Police.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned residents not to "underestimate" the storm.

"Don't relax, don't get complacent".

After the storm, crews will give priority to critical infrastructures first, then work on fixing lines that will restore power to the most people, but downed trees and flooding could cause delays.

North Carolina will see up to eight months of rain in a two- to three-day period, National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said in a video briefing. Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard posed by the slow-moving storm is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland".

Home Depot and Lowe's activated emergency response centers to get generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm.

Browning's choice to stay in the hurricane warning zone wasn't easy, she said, but she "could not find anywhere to go".

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. Airlines had canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.

Conditions are rapidly deteriorating along the coast of the Carolinas as Florence approaches.

At time of writing, Hurricane Florence is inching towards the coastline, and the combination of intense rainfall and gnarly swell threaten to engulf low-lying land in the region. "He is the only caregiver to me and my son", Browning said.

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