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Tue, 11 Sep 2018 13:39 - Updated Tue, 11 Sep 2018 13:39

People flee U.S. coast as Hurricane Florence nears Carolinas

HOLDEN BEACH, N.C. - More than 1.5 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes along the U.S. southeast coast as Hurricane Florence, the most powerful to menace the Carolinas in nearly three decades, barreled closer on Tuesday.

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Florence, a Category 4 storm packing winds of 130 miles per hour (210 kph), was expected to make landfall on Friday, most likely in southeastern North Carolina near the South Carolina border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Residents boarded up their homes and stripped grocery stories bare of food, water and supplies. Officials in South Carolina prepared to reverse lanes on major roadways to speed the evacuation of the coast.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster evoked the memory of 1989’s Hurricane Hugo, which killed 27 people in the state, in urging people to obey his evacuation order.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry,” McMaster told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday morning. “We want people to get out and get safe.”

The storm was located about 950 miles (1,530 km) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, at 5 a.m. ET, according to the NHC, which warned it would be “an extremely dangerous major hurricane” through Thursday night.

In addition to flooding the coast with wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 12 feet (3.7 m), Florence could drop 20 inches to as much as 30 inches (51-76 cm) of rain in places, posing the risk of deadly flooding miles inland, forecasters said. They warned the storm could linger for days after making landfall.

Florence appears to have weakened slightly but is expected to restrengthen later on Tuesday, the NHC said.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued an evacuation order for about 245,000 residents in flood-prone coastal areas beginning at 8 a.m. local time and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered about 1 million residents along his state’s coastline to leave starting at noon on Tuesday,REUTERS.

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