Gov. Deal issues state of emergency ahead of storm - Updated Version

11am2 Hurricane Florence May Stall Off Wilmington North Carolina

SC and North Carolina are evacuating people living in vulnerable areas along the coast.

Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 3 storm on Wednesday as peak winds eased to 125 miles per hour (205 kilometers per hour), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

A state of emergency has been declared in Georgia, making it the fifth state to do so, as authorities warned of storm surges and catastrophic flooding. This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend. The slow-moving storm, with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, is expected.

"Every county and every person in North Carolina needs to stay alert and take this storm seriously", Cooper said.

Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit.

It's all eyes on Hurricane Florence over the next several days.

Mr Graham said the Pamlico and Neuse rivers in North Carolina will see their flows "reversed" as storm surges push water back inland.

"Be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas", Mr Deal said in a statement. "Think Harvey-type flooding in parts of the Carolinas". Three college football games with Top 25 teams have been called off: East Carolina at No. 11 Virginia Tech, No. 15 West Virginia at NC State and No. 18 Central Florida at North Carolina.

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Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.

The governors of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and SC have also declared a state of emergency for their states in preparation for Florence's arrival.

Expected to make landfall by Friday, the impact of the storm will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, unsafe surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes. There are 5.25 million people under hurricane warnings and watches and another 4.89 million under tropical storm watches and warnings.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for much of the coast.

Based on the current forecast track, here is what to expect... "You feel like you should have already left".

Florence's projected path includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in huge lagoons.

Florence is the most risky of three tropical systems in the Atlantic.

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