Hurricane Florence pounds Carolinas ahead of landfall

NASA remembers September 11th

Anyone in an evacuation zone in the Carolinas and Virginia must leave NOW if they haven't yet.

"We'll handle it. We're ready".

"(It's) very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house.

Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm - but the danger is far from over for residents of the U.S. East Coast.

Since issuing a mandatory evacuation order Wednesday, nearly all of the more than 2500 residents left the island.

With recent official reports finding that last year's Hurricane Maria claimed almost 3,000 lives in Puerto Rico-an assertion that re-emerged onto the national spotlight Thursday after President Donald Trump, without providing evidence, alleged that those estimates were artificially inflated and politically motivated-it's worth exploring what it is that ultimately kills people, including the most vulnerable, when a hurricane strikes.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

But for those that do get hammered, customers could lose access to their local bank's services for days or weeks, depending on the extent of the damage.

As of 8 p.m., Florence was centered about 85 miles (135 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to 5 mph (7 kph).

Abrams says he expects Hurricane Florence to bring 10 to 20 inches of rain in most places and that the Carolinas can expect extensive flooding.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia - as well as the USA capital Washington.

More than 80,000 people are already without power, and forecasters have warned that conditions will only get more lethal as the storm pushes ashore in the early hours of Friday morning.

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The eastbound lanes of several major highways have been shut down to allow traffic to flow inland, but the exodus was slow along roads jammed with outward-bound vehicles.

In Columbia, South Carolina, Barry Sparks, a 66-year-old retiree, was thinking of getting out after the path of the storm shifted somewhat to the south.

He said: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".

North Carolina is the largest tobacco grower and ranks second among U.S. states in hog inventory and producing broiler chickens. "I am frightened about what's coming".

In the tiny community of Sea Breeze near Wilmington, Roslyn Fleming, 56, made a video of the inlet where her granddaughter was baptized because "I just don't think a lot of this is going to be here" later.

In was 1989 when Hurricane Hugo pummeled the Carolinas, causing tremendous destruction - killing 21 people in the USA and 29 in the Caribbean and leaving behind an estimated US$8 billion in damage.

"Hugo was a direct hit", he said.

"If anybody could help. our cars is under water and so is our house".

The coastal area of SC features hundreds of inlets while North Carolina has barrier islands miles away from the mainland.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were told to flee.

NASA via AP 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.

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