A tender photo shows an elderly couple holding hands in the back of an ambulance while evacuated before Hurricane Florence.
The couple was expelled from a nursing home in Beaufort County, South Carolina, on Thursday, when the evacuation window for more than 1.7 million people under mandatory orders closed quickly.
In South Carolina, more than 400,000 people have evacuated the coast of the state and more than 4,000 people have taken refuge in shelters, officials said. Myrtle Beach, one of the main tourist destinations, was a practical ghost town on Thursday night.
In Beaufort, North Carolina, Mayor Everette Newton told CNN that it is now "too late" to go out with those who have not yet done so.
"It's really dangerous right now, with lots of limbs falling, piles of debris," he explained. & # 39; They need shelter in their place & # 39;
An elderly couple holds hands while being evacuated by ambulance from a nursing home in South Carolina on Thursday
People sit in a bar and drink during a "Hurricane Festival" & # 39; when Hurricane Florence reaches land in Wilmington, North Carolina. Officials now say that for many coastal areas, it is "too late" to evacuate and residents must now take refuge in their place.
The locals have a drink while they crouch at the Barbary Coast bar in downtown Wilmington, while Florence threatens the coast
A radar map shows that the outer bands of Florence begin to lash the North Carolina coast on Thursday afternoon
All the famous Outer Banks and the barrier islands of North Carolina are under mandatory evacuation, although not all residents responded to the orders.
On Wrightsville Beach, an island near Wilmington, police chief Dan House said a handful of residents on the island have rejected evacuation orders.
He is telling them that it is better that they continue and give me the information of their closest relative, because no one will rescue them at the height of the storm.
After 5 p. M. On Thursday, the category 2 storm centered about 100 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and approximately 155 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Its forward movement was 5 mph and the top sustained winds were maintained at 100 mph.
Florence's outer wind and rain bands began to whip North Carolina on Thursday.
Its center will approach the coast later on Thursday and will touch down on the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
Jeff Egyp (left) marches along the Cape Fear River while Hurricane Florence arrives in Wilmington, North Carolina on Thursday
A police car passes an intersection after the traffic lights went out when the rain falls in Wilmington on Thursday
North Carolina felt the first bite of the monstrous Hurricane Florence on Thursday morning when the outer bands of wind and rain from the threatening storm lashed the east coast of the United States.
Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center say the storm will weaken after landfall, but it will also stay strong, spewing heavy rains for days.
The National Hurricane Center says Florence could shed 20 to 30 inches of rain, and that some places could reach up to 40 inches.
The force winds of the Florence hurricanes blew 80 miles from its center, and tropical storm force winds reached up to 195 miles away from the eye.
Waves of life-threatening storms of up to 13 feet were also forecast in some areas along with the possibility of tornadoes in North Carolina.
In North Carolina, 68,892 homes had already lost power Thursday night when strong winds began to hit the coast, authorities said. The main affected counties were Carteret, Craven, New Hanover, Onslow and Pamlico.
Duke Energy said Florence could shut down three quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and that the interruptions could last for weeks.
Marge Brown, 65, says goodbye to her father, George Brown, 90, before he is evacuated from a health care home in Morehead City, N.C., on Wednesday when Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast. & # 39; I would like to stay and see what happens. I have 90 more, "said Brown, a veteran of World War II who says he has survived a plane crash and severe burns in a laboratory fire where he once worked.
People are seen inside a shelter run by the Red Cross before it arrives in Britain on Thursday in Grantsboro, North Carolina.
Hurricane Florence evacuees try to rest at a Red Cross shelter in Grantsboro, North Carolina, on Thursday
In Wilmington, Bertha Bradley said she has never favored evacuation before the hurricanes. Only one storm scared them enough to leave the island. But the traffic was horrible.
"I said," Why get out on the road like this? "They'll kill me on the road," Bradley said. "I should stay at my house, where I have water and If God comes for you, you can not run away from Him.
In a trailer park on the outskirts of Wilmington, Alondra Espinoza was preparing to leave with her two small children.
"Everything is full," said Espinoza. & # 39; I want to take them as far as possible. I've been through hurricanes before, but never with children. If it were not for them, I would not have minded staying here.
All of her neighborhood was evacuated in Wilmington, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to travel to Florence in Charlotte's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went to buy a recreational vehicle.
"We are trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for a prolonged period," said David Garrigus.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is practically empty, as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast on Tuesday
This image taken from the video shows storm surge expert Hal Needham on Thursday in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Even if a house rises 10 feet, there's a big chance there's water inside, Needham said.
Melody Rawson evacuated her apartment on the first floor in Myrtle Beach and arrived at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird.
"We hope we have something left when we get home," he said.
Pig breeders along the east coast struggled earlier this week to drain their pools before the storm. Pig farms have open "lagoons" full of manure, which turn pink due to the bacteria that rot in the lagoons.
If the rivers break their banks, or the lagoons overflow, affecting the local waterways, which could damage the local environment and endanger the sources of drinking water and public health.
Waves crash around the Oceana pier in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, when the outer edges of Hurricane Florence will affect the coast on Thursday
Huge waves lashed the beaches of North Carolina as the hurricane rolled bringing heavy rain
Floods could also kill thousands of animals if they can not be evacuated in time.
Marlowe Vaughan of Ivy Spring Creek Farm in Goldsboro spent most of Tuesday pumping liquid waste from its lagoons to make more space for incoming rain.
"We try to pump everything we can, but after that, it's in the hands of God, we're at the mercy of the storm."
A private weather forecast firm estimates that Hurricane Florence will cause between $ 50,000 and $ 60,000 million in economic damages.
Images of drones and dashcam show the mysteriously silent Myrtle Beach as coastal cities are deserted after 1.7 million people flee from Hurricane Florence
By Rory Tingle for DailyMail.com
The popular tourist town of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina should be full of late-summer tourists, but its streets and sidewalks are eerily quiet, and the ferris wheel in the amusement park by the sea lies motionless.
The Drone and dashcam video shows that many of the city's 32,000 residents have already left before Hurricane Florence, joining 300,000 South Carolinians who followed evacuation orders issued to 1.7 million people on Wednesday.
Mandatory orders were applied to most of the coast of South Carolina and parts of North Carolina and Virginia.
& # 39; Myrtle Beach is like a ghost town. We've only lived here for three years, but we have friends who have lived here all their lives and have never experienced or seen the city so creepy, "resident Rodger Maybey told Stuff.
The video of drones captured on Wednesday night in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, shows that the generally bustling city is practically deserted
Many of the city's residents appear to have joined the 300,000 residents of South Carolina who evacuated on Wednesday.
Florence weakened to a category two hurricane on Wednesday night, but forecasters warned that it still posed the threat of 110 mph winds, a potentially deadly storm surge and torrential rains.
The center of Florence will approach the coasts of North Carolina and South on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina on Thursday night and Friday.
In Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, all residents had to leave before 8 pm Wednesday, otherwise no emergency assistance would be provided.
Caroline Ciener spent the day boarding her parents' house. "We are addressing today," he told ABC11.
It's hot. It's not fun, but it's all we can do at this point. We are trying to remove everything from the bottom of the garage, as we are sure there will be water. "
Authorities predict that Florence could cause $ 170 billion in property damage, but many businesses are already suffering an economic blow from the loss of business.
Myrtle Beach's Dashcam videos (also taken on Wednesday) were mostly abandoned, apart from some news vans
The same happened in many coastal areas of the Carolinas and Virginia on Wednesday and Thursday morning, after the evacuation of 1.7 million people was ordered. In the photo: Myrtle Beach
Chapel Hill has been hit by the closure of the University of North Carolina, with its 55,600 employees and students ordered to evacuate and the first soccer game of the year canceled.
The cancellation of the game will only take away $ 8 million in potential economic benefit from local areas.
"With the campus closed and the football game canceled, there's a lot of anxiety in local businesses," local chamber of commerce CEO Aaron Nelson told CBS.
"UNC only has about six home games each season and losing one of them is really a big problem."
The historic port city of Charleston, South Carolina, suffered heavy flooding during tropical storm Irma last year, and officials warn that the impact of Florence is expected to be worse.
Many of the city's residents had left on Wednesday, joining 300,000 of their fellow South Carolinians also fleeing that day.
Many of Charleston's residents had left on Wednesday, joining 300,000 of their South Carolinians peers also fleeing that day.
Charleston (pictured Wednesday night) saw heavy flooding during tropical storm Irma last year, and authorities warn that Florence's impact is expected to be worse