Hurricane Florence lashes Carolinas with heavy rain, floods

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

Hurricane-force winds began whipping North Carolina as federal emergency management officials warned that the hurricane remained a "very risky storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the coast.

HO/AFP/Getty Images In this September 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the US east coast as seen from the International Space Station.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

The massive storm will impact millions as it charges toward the southeastern us, and is expected to bring with it massive amounts of rain, risky flooding and powerful storm surges. Florence is expected to arrive in southeast North Carolina on Friday morning before drifting south into SC.

North Carolinians made last-minute preparations and hunkered down to await Florence's arrival.

Not everyone was taking Florence too seriously: About two dozen locals gathered Thursday night behind the boarded-up windows of The Barbary Coast bar as Florence blew into Wilmington.

President Donald Trump has said protecting lives is his "absolute highest priority" and that the White House is standing by to offer affected states whatever help they ask for.

"We've prepared all our supplies at home and frankly, we were bored".

Susan Faulkenberry Panousis has stayed in her Bald Head Island, North Carolina home during prior hurricanes, but not this time.

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Hurricane Florence will be one of the biggest storms to make landfall along the USA eastern seaboard in decades. "I am frightened about what's coming. We just want prayers from everyone".

At least 88,000 people were without power in North Carolina with the brunt of the storm yet to come, according to the state's emergency management agency.

On Wednesday, Florence was downgraded twice from its peak as a Category 4 storm which causes "catastrophic damage".

"This is a powerful storm that can kill", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned as the storm began battering the coast Thursday.

Two detention facilities in SC that are within government-mandated evacuation zones will not relocate inmates ahead of Hurricane Florence's landfall there.

If the European model is true or the overall trend persists, University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said it "is exceptionally bad news, as it smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge". Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachian mountains, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Airlines have cancelled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns across the Carolinas are largely empty after 1.7 million people in three states were told to clear out.

Some people who had rejected calls to evacuate the targeted area took walks along the water as they tried to enjoy a few final hours of normalcy before Florence's fury arrived.

And as the storm pushes inland, it could dump 6-10 inches as far inland as Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina as well as in Roanoke, Virginia, he said. Instead, they drove 150 miles (240 km) inland to his mother's house in Durham.

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