'GET OUT OF ITS WAY!': 'Monster' Hurricane Florence aims to drench Carolinas

Between 1 millions and 3 million people will likely lose power when Hurricane Florence makes landfall later this week, according to a Wednesday report from Duke Energy.

"The location was determined based on the track of Hurricane Florence and lodging availability, along with lessons learned from recent past difficulties returning home to an area impacted by widespread flooding", the release states.

"The biggest challenge has been the amount and rapid succession of unprecedented disasters", she said. More than 2,000 Florida utility workers were also sent to help restore power after the storm hits.

Forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

The governor of Georgia has declared a state of emergency after forecasts showed Hurricane Florence possibly taking a south-west turn.

Dozens of residents have vowed to ride out Hurricane Florence when it smashes into the Carolinas on Friday despite authorities warning that people will die.

Tropical storm-force winds extended 195 miles (315 kilometers) from Florence's center, and hurricane-force winds reached out 70 miles (110 kilometers).

"It's going to destroy homes", said Jeff Byard, an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Coastal residents fleeing a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared the Carolina coast on Wednesday.

Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 300 miles ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swath from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged.

As of 8 p.m., the storm was centered 335 miles (540 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

Duke Energy, the second-largest energy company in the USA, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its four million customers in the Carolinas.

Data collected during the flight allows the NOAA to keep a watchful eye on the most powerful storm to date in the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, to research its speed, intensity and structure. "There's no canned goods", Kristin Harrington said as she shopped at a Walmart in Wilmington. Although North Carolina is still expected to see the worst of the storm, a more southern track would mean that states further north - like Virginia - could be spared of some nasty weather. "If they're telling you to leave, you have to leave", Graham said.

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