Hurricane Florence packing a 'Mike Tyson punch', says top U.S. official

‘Storm of lifetime’: Hurricane Florence barrels toward Carolinas as residents flee

‘Storm of lifetime’: Hurricane Florence barrels toward Carolinas as residents flee

This means the storm will have less of an impact in northern North Carolina and southern Virginia and more of an impact on southern North Carolina, South Carolina and northern Georgia. Jeff Merkley's claim that the Trump administration diverted $10 million from FEMA to ICE for housing illegal immigrants caught up in the President Trump's zero tolerance policy at the border.

The Oregon Democrat showed budget documents about the fund transfer Tuesday on the "Rachel Maddow Show". That funding can not be spent on disaster response, they said.

In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate, including from the Eastern Shore, another popular beachfront destination. We're fully prepared, food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready.

Should other states request storm-related assistance from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, GEMA would in turn ask its Athens counterpart if the county could lend a hand by sending supplies or personnel to storm-ravaged areas.

Typhoon Mangkhut is estimated to have caused $250 million worth of damage to the Phillipines with rice and corn crops bearing the brunt of the storm.

"Hurricane and storm surge watches now blanket much of the SC and North Carolina coasts, and enormous rainfall totals could be in store for coastal areas as well as inland".

'I can't emphasise enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge and inland flooding with this storm'.

"Protection of life is the absolute highest priority", he added.

In a news release Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal says the state "is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence".

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, Florence weakened to a Category 3 storm.

As of 11am local time (3am NZT), Florence, a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm, was centred 785 kilometres southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving at 24kmh. "Every county and every person in North Carolina needs to stay alert and take this storm seriously".

Forecasters said parts of North Carolina could get 20in of rain, if not more, with as much as 10in elsewhere in the state and in Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington DC. But forecasters say there's an increased chance for tropical storm winds to reach Savannah.

More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia. Cars and trucks full of people and belongings streamed inland.

Meanwhile the hurricane is forecast to dump 1ft to 2ft 6in of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and farms.