Hurricane Florence smashes into US East Coast, rescuers scramble

Lowe’s emergency command center in Wilkesboro North Carolina monitors the path of Hurricane Florence and a team at company headquarters in Mooresville is working around the clock to coordinate deliveries

A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina.

The rainy summer has already caused some flooding at the zoo, so Kottyan said it has already identified problem areas on the grounds and is taking measures to guard against additional flooding from the hurricane, such as blocking animal stall doors with hay bails. Ballance called the rainfall "biblical", saying he's gotten reports from friends that his downtown seafood restaurant was flooded, just like the rest of the small city's historic downtown, and he's anxious about the hundreds of people who needed to be rescued overnight in the city.

"This is a powerful storm that can kill", said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in a Thursday press briefing.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been forced to evacuate as Hurricane Florence battered the eastern coast of the U.S., including more than 3,000 prisoners who have been relocated from jails in the path of Florence.

After landfall, the storm is expected to linger over the area for a few days, which would result in rising river levels and lakes.

There also could be significant beach erosion in some area, the weather service said.

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico past year. Officials say more than 100 people have already been rescued in the area overnight. "But I think we're ready". The storm has weakened to a Category 1, with wind speeds of 90 miles per hour.

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Florence, however, continues to threaten the east coast as a fierce storm that could trigger flooding as far south as Georgia. Storm winds could intensify through the day and tonight, but weaken slightly Thursday as it nears the coast.

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President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in North and SC , thus facilitating federal aid to those states. Current forecasts call for Florence to be at least a Category 3 storm when it arrives at the Carolinas.

One forecast from weather-tracking website Weathermodels.com predicts that over the next week, the Carolinas could see as much as 11 trillion gallons of rain.

While Zone A is a mandatory evacuation zone, a city spokesperson said they would never force anyone to leave.

"It's a real interesting piece of nature to have the eye of the storm be right in the midst of all the chaos we saw, and now we've got this break", Flock said. Kottyan said they will decide whether to keep some employees on site as Florence's path becomes more clear.

In the video, the astronauts expressed awe at the size of the storm, while also pointing out Isaac, a former tropical storm now making its way through the Caribbean.

Duke Energy told Fox News 3 million customers, which represents about 75 percent of their customers in the Carolinas, could lose power.

On social media, people caught in the storm are posting dramatic videos of flooding and high winds. Hurricane Florence is forecast to make landfall tomorrow. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometres) from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometres). "I've got four cats inside the house".

"You can't get over till we have power and we have sewer up and running", said the retired teacher and real estate agent, who rode out the hurricane in an inland hotel.

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