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Read more of our coverage of Hurricane Florence
"We need God's help," reads a few of the panels outside
That store took a serious turn in its message, though the next few panels read "Spiderman."
Farther down the highway,
"Looters will be shot," two panels read.
Off 27th Avenue North, Primo Hoagies takes a lighter tone and uses a phrase seen all over the area "Flo kiss my grits." The line a reference to Flo on the television show "Alice" and her catchphrase. Another panel tells "
Finally, The Little White Dress has a message not only for the storm, but for anyone that hunkered down as there is little left to do other than:
Even before sunrise here, ominous waves crashed to the shore. By
The good news for
perhaps arrived earlier than expected. The primary road through town was mostly empty, except for police cars and emergency vehicles that appeared to be on patrol. On the side streets, inside of residential areas, there were few signs that anyone had decided to stay behind to wait the storm out.
Around noon on Thursday, the only people near the
A little after
Harvey said that authorities had decided to close that bridge to incoming traffic, and that law enforcement officials would block
vehicles from crossing the bridge. A little after
Mobile homes are susceptible to even the lowest hurricane force winds, which can level the structures. Officials urged mobile home to evacuate or move to a shelter.
As the storm approached, Gomez said she planned to wait out the storm at a school shelter. She will drop off her dog at another home before the storm. As for her birds -- which sang on her porch as the wind whipped down her road -- they wait out the storm from inside the mobile home.
It is not the first time Gomez has been through a hurricane as she lived through Hurricane Andrew in
"Andrew was bad," she recalled, "this one looks a little different."
Gomez said she doesn't think the damage from Hurricane Florence will be severe and hopes her home will make it through the storm. She then let out a wily smile and added,
"I'm used to them, I'm really not afraid of hurricanes."
Thursday, spread across several pushed-together tables was a potluck repast of barbecued ribs with cole slaw, cocktail shrimp and bowls of grapes and fresh tomatoes.
"It's cocktail hour," said
When asked what she contributed to the meal,
"I brought booze," she said.
Carolinas: More curfews issued
"The City will continue to evaluate and monitor Hurricane Florence and is likely to extend the curfew if conditions warrant," the post states.
More information about the curfew is at greenvillenc.gov and on the city's social media sites. Residents can also call
The couple, who met in
But their relatives are still worried. Judy's sister called Tim from
"I feel safer here than anywhere," Judy said. "And our dogs are at home here."
Tim said the boat is tied down to the dock and to a free-standing pole, so the boat "might float" but won't leave the marina.
"That's where we disagree," Judy said. "I'd like to wake up in the
His aunt ws even lost in Hazel and never found.
Early forecasts suggested Hurricane Florence could be as bad here as Hazel. By Thursday, predictions had become less dire; instead of an earlier-feared 13-foot storm surge, it's down to 6 feet. But that's still enough to push water into
"It's going to be ugly, I'm afraid," said Long, who stopped by the restaurant Thursday afternoon to pick up some ice.
Even with the tempered forecast, he said, the storm is worrisome because it's expect to move so slowly that it might drop 20 inches or even 40 inches of rain in some places.
Hurricane Hazel was bad, Long said, "But at least Hazel moved on through. It didn't sit out here playing a song for us.
As Hurricane Florence moved slowly toward the coast, the
The store still had pallets of bottled water for sale and were in no danger of running out.
He said most employees had evacuated, but the company had plans to help workers get back to
Grimes said the grocery store has enough power from generators to keep the coolers running so they will not lose any perishables.
She had already cleared the restaurant's outdoor decks and dining areas of furniture and decor, and taken family photos off the walls.
"I don't want the roof to come off and be sitting at home wishing I had done something."
How long will you stay open?
"Til the well runs dry."
The store Williams' family has had outside
Williams had covered all the windows at the store with plywood except for the one closest to the cash register. That's the one with the cheerful "OPEN" sign shining like a red neon beacon.
Traffic was steady at the little store as people thought of the one last thing they'd like to have before Hurricane Florence arrives, bringing high winds and possibly two solid days of rain. Or maybe they just wanted to get out for a bit while there was still a place to go.
Williams wasn't planning to go anywhere. He and his mother plan to ride out the storm at the
Williams declined. "Mom won't use one, and I sleep just as well in an office chair as I do in a bed."
"I'm staying," she said, "I have pets, number one, and I'm a hard head."
She said she has lived in
"I couldn't feel it yesterday," she said as she looked back to the beach, "but it's coming. I feel it now."
Along the northern end of
York said he did not board his house up for
York owns York Custom Golf Carts in central
He took one long look at the water, folded his arms and shook his head.
"You can't get out there in this," he said, while rain began to downpour. In the early morning hours here Thursday, that's how it went for the
"It was fun surfing yesterday," said Perry, 49, to a friend named
Blake, 23, nodded in agreement. He hadn't come here to surf, he said, but instead just to be here, absorbing the scene in the hours before the arrival of a storm that forecasters say could be among the worst in state history.
"More so just to look," Blake said, explaining why he had arrived before sunrise to stand where he stood. "Just to see if I remember what the pier is looking like."
He didn't know whether he was really worried about the destruction of the pier. He only knew that it was something people joked about, in a dark way, every time especially bad weather approached. And now approached one of the largest storms to come this way in at least the past 75 years.
Perry and Blake are both locals, residents of
"I'll paddle over there," Blake said with a nervous laugh.
The rain stopped for a while, long enough for
"I remember doing this a lot as a little kid," he said. "I just wanted them to see the power of the waves and everything."
Sullivan was planning on leaving with his family later on Thursday. They'd head to
By the time they left, the waves were rising higher. By
A state trooper said he thought Weather Channel meteorologist
He declined to give his name, only joking that he was "talking smack about
Then at 8:45, it finally went empty.
Longtime Wilmington resident
"I was born and raised here," he said, climbing into his pickup. "I ain't going nowhere."
By midday, when tropical storm-force winds are expected to arrive, it won't just look like a hurricane is coming. It will feel like it, for the first time since
A police officer patrolling at Sunset, an island off
A few planned to take their chances with the storm, which had been downgraded to a Category 2.
"I'm packed and ready to go. I'm just getting a look at everything and taking Joey for one last walk," said
Benton said he stayed on the island during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, but is leaving this time, in part to set a good example for the citizens he serves.
"Why should I put law enforcement in harm's way to save me and Joey?" he said.
Benton said Joey has been panting and pacing since Wednesday -- an indication that the dog knows something is up.
Benton, who has lived on the island for 15 years, said he installed impact-resistant windows in his house a couple of years ago. They are designed to withstand 140-mph winds.
With the latest forecast, he said, he expects to return to an island that is strewn with debris such as shingles and tree branches. He expects the dunes to be a little lower from high ocean tides, but because
"We'll weather this one," he said, "just like we've weathered all the others."
Nearby, a father brought his children to the beach so they could witness the power of a coming storm before things got too bad.
It is hammered over the front windows of Bourbon Street Bar and Restaurant with three hearts spray-painted in red.
Every news crew and selfie-taker has stopped there.
But the toughest residents who endured Fran and outlasted Floyd shrugged off the call for prayer.
"We'll be fine," said longtime resident
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