United States east coast braced for catastrophic hurricane strike

‘Storm of lifetime’: Hurricane Florence barrels toward Carolinas as residents flee

‘Storm of lifetime’: Hurricane Florence barrels toward Carolinas as residents flee

But despite the potentially devastating hurricane, forecast to make landfall on Friday with 130mph winds, people tried to offer some "relief" in the silence before the storm.

"We are sparing no expense", Trump told reporters in the Oval Office after meeting with Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Administration officials.

Florence, a category 4 hurricane, is now moving in a west-northwesterly direction at 17mph.

Meteorology director Jeff Masters at the private Weather Underground says Florence will come "roaring up to the coast Thursday night and say 'I'm not sure I really want to do this, and I'll just take a tour of the coast and decide where I want to go inland'".

The threat has sparked a rush of evacuation efforts in SC and North Carolina, with more than a million people urged to get out of Florence's way.

It urged residents to heed evacuation orders.

North Carolina officials evacuated long-term care facilities and hundreds of prisoners in vulnerable areas, and also closed state parks, museums and other attractions.

The latest data suggests at least 20 to 30 inches will fall on southeastern North Carolina including the Wilmington, Jacksonville, and Crystal Coast from Thursday through the weekend.

"Hurricane and storm surge watches now blanket much of the SC and North Carolina coasts, and enormous rainfall totals could be in store for coastal areas as well as inland".

Even with some weakening that's predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a risky major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said. "Wherever you live in North Carolina, you need to get ready for this storm now and you need to evacuate if asked to".

NASA also shared a video of the Category 4 storm from the International Space Station.

Georgia joined 4 other coastal states issuing an emergency declaration as forecasts showed Florence dumping historic amounts of torrential rain on the southern state.

In a news release Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal says the state "is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence".

At 2 a.m., the storm was centered 625 miles (1,005 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph).

Helene was weakening, however, and posed no danger to land, the NHC said, while Isaac could bring heavy rain to Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe.

Coastal residents along the Carolinas encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared its coast with winds and drenching rain that could last for days.

While some said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast, many weren't taking any chances.

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