Hurricane Florence on Wednesday put a corridor of more than 10 million people in the spotlight as the monstrous storm loomed over the Carolinas, uncertainty about its projected path spreading concern across a wide swathe of the southeast.
Florence weakened and became a Category 2 hurricane when it moved to the United States, but the National Hurricane Center warned it could still trigger a wave of life-threatening storms and heavy rains.
The center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and South Carolina on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern South Carolina on Thursday night and Friday, he added. the NHC.
The size of Hurricane Florence, with winds of around 130 miles per hour, seen from space as a camera outside the International Space Station captures the eye of the Category 2 storm as it heads toward the southeastern coast of America.
Hurricane Florence on Wednesday put the corridor of more than 10 million people in the spotlight as the monstrous storm closed over the Carolinas (sand bags surround the houses at North Topsail Beach, N.C., Wednesday)
Coastal homes in North Topsail Beach, North Carolina, prepare for Hurricane Florence on Wednesday
A US Cellular store UU Use sandbags at the main entrance in the afternoon as they prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Florence
Tybee Island residents Sib McLellan, left, and his wife, Lisa McLellan, carry sandbags in the back of their truck as they prepare for Hurricane Florence on Wednesday
A message is posted in a walled building before the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Oak Island, North Carolina.
Steve Wareheim poses for a photo after making one last grocery purchase to prepare for Hurricane Florence at a grocery store in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. on Wednesday
Marge Brown, 65, says goodbye to her father, George Brown, 90, before he is evacuated from a health care home in Morehead City, NC, on Wednesday, September 12, 2018, when Hurricane Florence near 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.
Tim Avery drags boards to the third floor of a home as he prepares for Hurricane Florence in a house on Emerald Isle N.C., Wednesday
A boat is partially moored on the road while workers extract boats from the water at the Wanchese port in Wanchese, N.C. when Hurricane Florence approaches the coast of the Carolinas, Wednesday
A signal publishes a mandatory evacuation before Hurricane Florence at Emerald Isle N.C., Wednesday
Faced with new predictions that showed a more southern threat, the governor of Georgia joined his counterparts in Virginia and North Carolina and South Carolina to declare a state of emergency, and some residents who thought they were safe were locked in their homes. houses.
The National Hurricane Center's best guess was that Florence would fly ashore on Friday afternoon around the North Carolina-South Carolina line, and then push its way west with a potential for catastrophic flooding inland.
The night winds of Florence dropped to 110 mph from a maximum of 140 mph, and the Category 3 storm fell to Category 2, with a slower weakening expected as the storm approaches the coast. But the authorities warned that it will continue to be an extremely dangerous hurricane.
Do you want to be hit with a train or do you want to be hit with a cement truck? said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The tropical storm winds extended 195 miles from the center of Florence and the hurricane winds reached 70 miles.
The National Weather Service said that 5.25 million people live in areas under warning or hurricane warning and that 4.9 million live in places covered by warnings or warnings of tropical storms.
In the White House, President Donald Trump promoted the government's disposition and urged people to move away from Florence.
Do not play games with that. It's very big, "he said.
As of 11 p.m., the storm centered 280 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 17 mph. The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast on Friday and it will take a while before reaching the coast.
Until Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to vacate. The airlines had canceled about 1,000 flights and counting. Home Depot and Lowe & # 39; s activated emergency response centers to bring generators, trash bags and bottled water to stores before and after the storm. The two hardware chains said they sent a total of about 1,100 trucks.
Duke Energy, the nation's second largest electric utility, said Florence could shut down three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and interruptions could last for weeks. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help with the consequences of the storm, he said.
The hurricane is expected to pass through six nuclear power plants in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Duke Energy operates 11 reactors at six sites in the Carolinas, including the Brunswick nuclear plant. The company is also preparing for the potential shutdown of nuclear reactors at least two hours before the arrival of hurricane winds.
Patio furniture is seen in the pool in an effort to keep it from flying away as people prepare before the arrival of Hurricane Florence on September 12
Doug Lewis (L) and Chris Williams use plywood with the words "The looters will be shot" to cover the windows of the Knuckleheads bar while trying to protect the business before the arrival of Hurricane Florence on September 12
People and pets evacuate before the expected arrival of Hurricane Florence and seek refuge at Burgaw Middle School in Burgaw, North Carolina, USA. US, September 12
Gas pumps are wrapped in plastic to prevent people from using them in a closed station before the arrival of Hurricane Florence, September 12
Sarah Dankanich, on the right, pulls an "out of service" wrapping of a gas pump when her husband, Bryan Dankanich, leaves, prepares to pump gasoline into cans before Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, N.C., Wednesday
A gas station is empty with its fuel pumps wrapped in caution tape in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on September 12.
Sarah Dankanich, on the right, pulls an "out of service" wrapping from a gas pump while her husband prepares to pump gasoline into cans before Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, N.C., on Wednesday. Florence erupted in a potentially catastrophic hurricane on Monday when it approached North and South Carolina, with winds of up to 140 mph
The cameras of the International Space Station show the storm as it moved across the Atlantic in a west-northwest direction
The two reactors at the Brunswick plant are of the same design as those in Fukushima, Japan, which exploded and filtered radiation after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Despite the evacuation order, the South Carolina Department of Corrections decided not to remove the inmates at the Ridgeland Correctional Institution.
SCDC spokesman Dexter Lee said: "In the past, it has been safer to leave them there."
Some inmates and prison staff from North Carolina were moved to a safe place on Wednesday. The officials also did not reveal which jails or where they were evacuated, for security reasons.
Several interstates and several state offices, including the University of South Carolina, and schools in 26 counties in the eastern part of the state closed on Wednesday.
"We do not want children at school to be in danger," McMaster told The State. We know that you will reach a place where you will have a dramatic impact in South Carolina. We're going to get a lot of water that we have not seen at some time. "
McMaster previously issued a mandatory medical evacuation of 177 hospitals and medical facilities, including nursing homes, in the eight coastal counties.
Approaching his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington observed the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave.
"In 12 or 18 hours, they may be saying different things over and over again," he said.
Computer models of what the storm could do varied, increasing uncertainty. In contrast to the official projection of the hurricane center, a highly prestigious European model caused the storm to turn southward off the coast of North Carolina and reach the coast near the Georgia-South Carolina line.
Reacting to the possibility of a route further south, Georgia's Governor, Nathan Deal, declared an emergency but did not order any evacuation immediately.
As the shop windows are prepared with plywood, a couple waits for their car in Nags Head, N.C., Wednesday
People line up outside a Home Depot for a new supply of generators and plywood before Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, N.C., Wednesday
The bronze statue of Neptune meets the dawn behind, on Wednesday, in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Andrew Lingle walks along the beach at dawn as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast at Atlantic Beach, N.C., Wednesday
Eye of the storm: Government officials warned that Hurricane Florence would deliver a "Mike Tyson hit" to the states of Carolina, while the southeast coast was preparing for the impact
"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those on the path of Hurricane Florence," Deal said.
The change in the projected trajectory sowed concern in areas that they once thought were relatively safe. In South Carolina, near the Georgia line, the emergency chief of Beaufort County, Neil Baxley, told residents they must prepare for the worst again just in case.
& # 39; We have had our lessons. Now it could be the time of the exam, "he said.
In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged people to stay away from home despite the changes showing Florence's path that is largely missing from the state.
All of his neighborhood was evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to travel to Florence in their daughter's room 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.
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.
Utility trucks line up in a parking lot adjacent to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, on Wednesday
Jason Moore, of Raleigh, N.C., pack to evacuate from Wrightsville Beach, N.C., on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 while Hurricane Florence threatens the coast
Phoebe Tesh takes a break from her luggage to evacuate from Wrightsville Beach, N.C., on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 while Hurricane Florence threatens the coast
"We hope we have something left when we get home," he said.
Meteorologists fear that the storm's damage will worsen if it stays on the coast. The trend is "exceptionally bad news," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, who "ravages the land along hundreds of miles of coastline, especially the storm surge."
With the beach towns of South Carolina more visible due to the change in prognosis, Ohio vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland postponed their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time in the arena. Most of the other bathers had left.
"It's been really nice," said Nicole Roland. & # 39; In addition, a bit creepy. You feel that you should have left already.
"We can not emphasize the importance to our citizens that they are evading local and state warnings," FEMA's Jeffrey Byard warned at a press conference on Tuesday.
"Hurricane Florence is the strongest storm to attack the Carolinas and this part of our country in decades."
Byard said they are preparing for "massive damage", power outages and even deaths.
"This storm will have the potential to cause the loss of lives and we can not emphasize the importance of acting now," Byard said.
On Tuesday night, the storm was about 350 miles southwest of Bermuda and is moving northwest, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Pig farmers along the east coast also struggled 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.
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."