US President Donald Trump on Twitter warned of the storm's dangers and praised his administration's handling of past hurricanes, rejecting criticism for its response to Hurricane Maria previous year in Puerto Rico. "It's a big one".
Florence is now a Category 4 storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale and is forecast to slam into the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday.
More than 1.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate coastal areas ahead of the storm because of both destructive winds and a storm surge that could place normally dry land under at least 10 feet of water.
"The better prepared anybody is, it can potentially reduce the impact of the claims if you can better harden your facilities against damage", said Robert O'Brien, a managing director in the national property-claims practice at Marsh, a unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos.
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According to Fox News Senior Meteorologist Janice Dean, current forecast puts Florence stalling upon reaching the Carolina coast before making a slight shift south and barreling down SC.
"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
This storm is not going to be a glancing blow.
"It was located farther north in the Atlantic than any other storm to ever hit the Carolinas, so what we're forecasting is unprecedented", said AccuWeather's Marshall Moss, vice president of forecasting and graphics operations. This storm is a slow-moving mammoth and will linger for days on the coast, heavily affecting not only North and SC but also Georgia and parts of Virginia before moving further inland, causing devastation to entire states throughout the weekend.
The latest projections of Florence, now a Category 4 storm, show it shifting south putting Georgia in its possible path.
"There's still uncertainty on exactly how inland the hurricane does penetrate".
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"If I need to evacuate I can go to my son's house", Sparks said as he carted a load of water bottles to his auto. Three college football games with Top 25 teams have been called off: East Carolina at No. 11 Virginia Tech, No. 15 West Virginia at NC State and No. 18 Central Florida at North Carolina.
"Not much has changed since this morning", meteorologist Chris Fisher from the National Weather Service said. It's the most deadly part of the hurricane that comes in, it causes the most amount of destruction.
Mayor Joe Benson said the storm will batter the oceanside town through two high tide periods.
"It's going to be bad", said Woody White, chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners. "I was in the same house and it stood fine".
The waste can be a significant problem when there's storm surge and heavy rain, as a lot of North Carolina's hog production is close to the coast, according to Will Sawyer, an Atlanta-based economist at CoBank.
"Disaster is at the doorstep and is coming in". And once the impacts of this storm start to come in, it's going to be very hard for first responders to get to you. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different.
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States up and down the East Coast have a great potential for severe weather.