Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge whipped the Carolina coast Thursday to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.
The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to around 90 mph (144 kph) by nightfall. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov.
"The worst of the storm is not yet here but these are early warnings of the days to come," he said. "Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience."
Cooper requested additional federal disaster assistance in anticipation of what his office called "historic major damage" across the state.
More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. Another 400 people were in shelters in
Prisoners were affected, too.
Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and
Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in
Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as
A buoy off the
Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the
Once a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph (225 kph), the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 1 on Thursday night.
Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the
The hurricane was seen as a major test for the
Not everyone was taking
"We'll operate without power; we have candles. And you don't need power to sling booze," said owner
Others were at home hoping for the best.
"This is our only home. We have two boats and all our worldly possessions," said
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