14 September, 2018
As thousands evacuate parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia in preparation for a direct hit by the category 4 hurricane set to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday, the National Weather Service Wilmington has issued a chilling warning, dubbing Hurricane Florence as potentially one of the most unsafe storms to hit the east coast in decades.
Vice President Pence will go to Atlanta on Thursday to review preparations for Hurricane Florence, the Category 4 storm that is expected to make landfall later this week.
Florence's nighttime winds were down to 115 miles per hour (185 kph) from a high of 140 miles per hour (225 kph), and the Category 4 storm fell to a Category 3, with a further slow weakening expected as the storm nears the coast.
Following a statewide emergency declaration, Athens area hospitals and emergency service agencies on Wednesday prepared for what could be the most catastrophic hurricane to hit the mid-Atlantic coast in decades.
"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", said Brad Corpening, 35, who planned to ride out the storm in his boarded-up delicatessen in Wilmington.
A hurricane warning went into effect from South Santee River in SC to Duck, North Carolina.
The National Hurricane Center says the waves were measured by satellite.
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But others are more wary: Mexican restaurant Tower Seven has closed and barricaded its doors to customers since Tuesday, hanging a sign on the door warning people to "be safe".
Residents on the Carolina coast are finding empty gas pumps and depleted store shelves as they flee a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence. SC and North Carolina are evacuating people living in vulnerable areas along the coast.
Beth Burgess, director of Emergency Management for Athens-Clarke County, said her main concern was for the safety and well being of local residents.
What's more certain is beach erosion and unsafe surf conditions.
Evacuations were also under way at other bases across the region.
A ideal storm of unfortunate circumstances means Florence will likely be catastrophic for parts of the Southeast.
Parts the eastern seaboard of the United States will be deluged with 40 inches of rain and suffer a "Mike Tyson punch" from Hurricane Florence, emergency planners warned today. "An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is now investigating the hurricane". Thousands of Marines and their families evacuated from Camp Lejeune, leaving the rest to dig in ahead of what could be a direct hit. Storm surge warnings indicate a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline during the coming 36 hours.