Hurricane Florence is the biggest concern as it is a day or so away from making catastrophic landfall along the Southeastern US Coast.
More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate over the past few days, and the homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.
Heavy rain, wind gusts and rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence swamped the Carolinas early on Friday as the massive storm crawled toward the coast, threatening millions of people in its path with record rainfall and punishing surf.
Recent forecasts show the likely path of the hurricane and surrounding storm to head southwards after smacking into North Carolina and SC. REUTERS/Randall HillResidents prepare a house with storm shutters ahead of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.
Wilmington, North Carolina, just north of where the hurricane is expected to come ashore, was sunny around midday yesterday as the town appeared to be emptying.
Everything you need to know about Hurricane Florence
USA carriers were also waiting to see what impact Florence could have on airports near Washington and in northern Virginia. On Thursday morning, South 17th Street, usually teeming with commuter traffic by 6:30 a.m., was almost devoid of cars.
Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as merely a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 100 miles per hour, but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.
The US president said he had spoken to governors of threatened states, adding that the "federal government stands by, ready to assist 24/7".
The storm is expected to slow down, stall and then perhaps wander just off the Carolina shore as it nears the coast Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Landfall is expected late Thursday or early Friday, and the National Hurricane Center fears the storm "will slow considerably or stall, leading to a prolonged and exceptionally heavy and risky rainfall event Friday-Sunday".
Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.
ISS images show massive Hurricane Florence from 400 km up
Another Wilmington resident said she does not want to leave because she is afraid to see what she would be coming back to. The center downgraded Florence to a Category 1 hurricane, but warned that it still carried "very risky winds".
"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said. Florence could bring life-threatening storm surges, up to 13 feet.
St. Helena Island near the South Carolina-Georgia line is used to riding out big storms - from one that killed an estimated 2,000 people in 1893 to Tropical Storm Irma a year ago.
"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said. There is also a "slight" risk of tornadoes in the coastal region of North Carolina. "You can't stop Mother Nature".
"I've been through hurricanes before but never with kids", she said.
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.
Hurricane Florence begins to batter U.S. east coast
We will have tropical storm force winds and rain and storm surge continues to be our main concern with extreme flooding. Browning's choice to stay in the hurricane warning zone wasn't easy, she said, but she "could not find anywhere to go".
For the first time since since 2008, the Atlantic has for named storms simultaneously.
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Evacuations in United States ahead of Hurricane Florence
There was also concern over crops. "It's going to be bad", said Woody White, chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners. At least 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been warned to evacuate, and others are hunkering down.
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