Governor Deal issues State of Emergency across Georgia

Governor Deal issues State of Emergency across Georgia

Dubbed the "Storm of a lifetime", the National Weather Service expects the hurricane to reach the Carolinas on Thursday or Friday, and may linger over the weekend - bringing with it "catastrophic" winds and flooding rainfall.

As of 5:00 am (1100 GMT), Florence was a risky Category 4 hurricane packing sustained winds of 130 miles per hour (220 kilometers per hour), the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

A long stretch of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard remained vulnerable to hurricane and tropical storm conditions, from Georgia north through the Carolinas into Virginia.

Coastal residents have already started leaving the shores and heading west inland, but many are finding empty gas pumps as gasoline stations are sold out of gas.

"I'm not approaching Florence from fear or panic", said Brad Corpening, 35, who planned to ride out the storm in his boarded-up delicatessen in Wilmington.

If these projections hold, University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy says "it's exceptionally bad news, as it smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".

It is expected to make landfall in the area later this week.

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The NHC experts warned that "life-threatening storm surge (is) possible along the coasts of North and South Carolina".

The National Weather Service says nearly half of all deaths from tropical cyclones come from storm surge.

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Duke Energy, the nation's No. 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

Hurricane Isaac is now moving through the western tropical Atlantic Ocean but will likely bring heavy rain and damaging winds to parts of the Lesser Antilles later this week.

Tim Terman said family members have been pressuring him and his wife to evacuate their home in Bald Head Island, North Carolina, but they are staying put - for now. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.

Forecasters in Wilmington, North Carolina, are emphasizing the potential for what they're calling "unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding".

Michelle Stober loaded up valuables on Tuesday at her home on Wrightsville Beach to drive back to her primary residence in Cary, North Carolina.

A total of 15-20 inches of rain is expected, with isolated areas of up to 30 inches in parts of North Carolina, Virginia and the northern part of SC through Saturday.

"We haven't see a storm like this since the 1950s", said the construction worker, drill in hand. The governor added that a million or more people could be evacuated before the end of the storm.

"It's the difference between a quarter inch and 10-15 inches", he said.

"This one really scares me", Graham said.

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