Trinidadians in the Carolinas prepare for Hurricane Florence

Atlantic Beach North Carolina

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The outer bands of wind and rain from Hurricane Florence began lashing North Carolina on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) as the monster storm moved in for an extended stay along the Southeastern coast, promising to drench the properties of 10 million people with huge amounts of water.

The storm was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon.

While wind speeds dropped Thursday, forecasters reminded people that what makes Florence extremely unsafe are the potentially deadly storm surges, the expected mammoth coastal flooding and historic rainfall.

According to the National Hurricane Centre, heavy rains with tropical-storm-force winds are spreading across the outer banks and coastal southeastern North Carolina.

Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.

Both North and SC can expect a deluge of rain between today and Saturday with an unprecedented 10 trillion gallons of rainfall predicted by the time the rains end.

Evacuation warnings have been in place for 1.7 million people in the area.

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Freight haulers need to be prepared for many washed out roadways and damage to rail infrastructure across this multi-state area. Once Florence makes landfall we'll have a better idea in Virginia what we'll be dealing with. "Now's the time to prepare".

Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial and farm waste sites.

Volunteers from the Civilian Crisis Response Team help people to higher ground after rescuing them from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence in James City, North Carolina. A Weatherflow station at Fort Macon, North Carolina recently reported a sustained wind of 77 miles per hour with a gust to 100 miles per hour.

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper urged residents to remain alert despite changing forecasts.

"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the NHC said. Airlines canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.

The European computer model has Florence veering before landfall and hovering for a couple days off the coast. More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. Then it is likely to hover along the coast on Saturday, pushing up to 13ft of storm surge.

Long, the DHS IG's office, and the White House all did not respond to Politico's requests for comment.

On Thursday morning, a tweet from South Carolina's Emergency Management Division brought this perspective on Florence's sheer size: It's "larger than SC and North Carolina combined".

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SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

Nearly 800,000 people are reported to be without power already in North Carolina, and officials have warned restoring electricity could take days or even weeks.

Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms. The government of Puerto Rico accepted these numbers, too, after many months in which the official death toll was listed at 64 people.

"I said, 'Why get on the road like this?"

"I'm not going to lie: I'm scared", she said.

Storm surge is basically a wall of seawater that could fall on and swallow parts of the coast.

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