Ohio Task Force 1 leaves for North Carolina for Hurricane Florence

Highways clogged with people fleeing North and SC early Wednesday as monstrous Category 4 Hurricane Florence rumbled toward the eastern U.S. as the biggest storm there in decades. Catastrophic floods could follow if the storm stalls inland, it said.

North Carolina and SC have issued evacuations in their states as they prepare for the most powerful storm.

"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. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said. For example, the seas off of Wilmington, North Carolina have risen 7.5 inches since 1935, according to NOAA.

To hasten evacuations from coastal SC, officials reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so all major roads led away from shore. The majority of the storm surge and rainfall issues are expected to remain for southeast North Carolina down into Charleston. "Everyone was sold out", she said.

The coastal surge from Florence could leave the eastern tip of North Carolina under more than 9ft of water in spots, projections showed. Rainfall is now projected at up to 4 inches for the upper Peninsula.

Cooper and his SC counterpart, Henry McMaster, told the more than 1 million people who have been told to leave that if they don't, they are on their own.

Trump tweeted about the danger to Georgia Wednesday, saying, "Hurricane Florence may now be dipping a bit south and hitting a portion of the Great State of Georgia".

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Utility officials have warned that widespread power outages are likely and that it could take weeks to restore electricity.

The last time the USA capital declared a state of emergency was in January 2016 when a winter storm dubbed "Snowzilla" blanketed the capital region in knee-deep snow. When and where it will make landfall is unclear.

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. A hospital in Hampton, Virginia, was transferring patients to safer places.

Trump said: "We are sparing no expense".

"We are already experiencing heavily impacted traffic on some of the evacuation routes", said Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Homeland Security Department is pushing back against a Democratic U.S. senator's claim that the Trump administration transferred almost $10 million from the government's disaster relief agency to immigration enforcement. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm. Streets were quiet with schools and many offices and businesses closed.

Hurricane Florence is poised to hit the mid-Atlantic coast and the Carolinas this week, and satellite images of the storm are nothing short of terrifying. Shelters in the city were filling and some people were being bused inland to Raleigh, even though some residents there were told they might have to evacuate because of flooding. Many gasoline stations were running low on fuel.

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