FEMA's first priority after Florence passes will be getting infrastructure that's critical to communities' well-being up and running, Long said.
Coastal streets flowed with frothy ocean water and tens of thousands lost electricity.
As of 2 a.m., Florence was centered about 35 miles east of Wilmington, N.C. Its forward movement increased slightly to 6 mph.
He said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 200 miles out. Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill. Then Florence may hover over the region for days, with cloud cover as wide as the Carolinas. We have wind and rain.
An officer inspecting the Triangle Motor Inn found a "basketball-sized hole" in a corner room and firefighters said the building had suffered life-threatening structural damage. The storm was moving west-northwest at 10 miles per hour with winds that have decreased significantly to 100 miles per hour.
By late Thursday afternoon, the Carolina coasts can expect winds topping 80 miles per hour.
Hurricane Florence has just about reached the cost of the Carolinas, set to bring heavy rain and damaging winds to the area tomorrow and through the weekend.
Cooper said 108 shelters are open across the state, with more than 7,000 people already staying at them, as of Thursday afternoon.
Computer simulations - especially the often star-performing European model - push the storm further south, even into SC and Georgia. "We're able", he said. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other risky conditions", the hurricane center briefing said. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire. It's now pummeling the coast of North Carolina with 90mph winds and heavy rain, the CNN reported Friday. "Remember that floods will occur in places that do not receive a hurricane or even tropical storm level winds".
Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.
Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. As the recovery from past storms continues in many rural towns, the next storm is about to strike. The storm has already dumped up to a foot of rain in some areas, and it could bring as much as 40 inches. The storm is massive and was a Category 4 hurricane at its worst that will devastate anything it encounters.
Coastal streets were inundated with ocean water, causing damage to dozens of homes and businesses, officials said.
Not everyone was taking Florence too seriously: About two dozen locals gathered Thursday night behind the boarded-up windows of The Barbary Coast bar as Florence blew into Wilmington.
"This is our only home".
In the meantime, "treat the inland flooding just as seriously as you would the storm surge", said Clark.
"But we can't replace us so we chose to come here".
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