Carolina coast braces for 'Mike Tyson punch' from hurricane

Warnings Intensify as FEMA Says Florence

Warnings Intensify as FEMA Says Florence "Will Be a Mike Tyson Punch to Carolina Coast"

Its maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly to 110 miles per hour. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different.

"But despite that, bad things can happen when you are talking about a storm this size", he added.

Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and the rain and storm surge will make Florence extremely unsafe.

More than 1.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate along 300 miles of coastline.

Florence is forecast to dump up to three feet (almost a meter) of rain in some areas.

The result could be what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago - catastrophic inland flooding that could swamp homes, businesses, fields and industrial sites. He cited forecasts showing Florence was likely to stall over North Carolina, "bringing days and days of rain".

Communities could lose electricity for weeks, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said.

At 5 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Florence was 575 miles east of Cape Fear, N.C., moving west-northwest at 17 mph.

The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington amid concern over potential torrential rain and flooding.

Caitie Sweeney of Myrtle Beach texts her family while visiting the beach ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

To hasten evacuations from coastal SC, officials reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so all major roads led away from shore.

Jeff Byard, FEMA associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery, called Florence "a very unsafe storm".

A tropical storm warning is in effect for north of Duck, NC, to the North Carolina/Virginia border.

"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", he said. "Now's the time to prepare".

"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.

"Hugo was a direct hit", he said.

"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighbourhood making sure my neighbours are fine because nobody can get in here". "We have everything. We're ready".

"People need to leave now before they can't", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. "If you are on the coast, there is still time to get out safely".

A hurricane warning - meaning hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours - is in effect for a long stretch of the coast, from the Santee River in SC to Duck, N.C., which is part of the Outer Banks.

Melody Rawson evacuated her first-floor apartment in Myrtle Beach and arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, to camp for free with three other adults, her disabled son, two dogs and a pet bird. After its initial impact, Byard said the most serious concern will be massive rainfalls that would produce risky inland flooding.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic basin, Tropical Storm Isaac will strike the islands of the Lesser Antilles, with Guadeloupe, Dominica and Martinique under a tropical storm warning.