More than 98,000 without power in U.S. Southeast as Florence approaches

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On Wednesday, Florence was downgraded twice from its peak as a Category 4 storm which causes "catastrophic damage".

"This storm will bring destruction", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said.

"Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the centre of the storm".

"On the forecast track, the center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later tonight, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and northeastern SC in the hurricane warning area on Friday", a recent NHC update said. Despite its unpredictable path, it was forecast to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday on Friday.

The "threat of freshwater flooding will increase over the next several days" in the impacted areas.

At 7 a.m., the center of the eye was located about 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Wilmington, moving west at 6 mph.

The damage is much more widespread-and while Florence's main targets appear to be the Carolinas, the storm could bring flooding to parts of Georgia and Virginia as well.

Members of the Missouri Search and Rescue, part of FEMA, unload their gear at a staging area as Hurricane Florence starts to make landfall in Lealand, North Carolina, Sept. 13, 2018.

Hurricane Florence has only just begun to wreak havoc along the Carolina coastlines, but already people are capturing absolutely shocking footage of the storm surges from the category 2 hurricane. Millions were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.

At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.

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People are seen inside a shelter run by Red Cross before Hurricane Florence comes ashore in Grantsboro, N.C., September 13, 2018.

Atlantic Beach on North Carolina's Outer Banks islands had already received 30 inches (72 cm) of rain, the U.S. Geological Survey said, while more than 25 inches (63 cm) have fallen in the Newport, Morehead City area since Thursday. Heavy rains were forecast to extend into the Appalachian Mountains, affecting parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Rescue helicopters and trucks that can navigate floodwaters are also standing by.

Despite pleas from officials, some residents rejected calls to evacuate.

With gusts upward of 110 miles per hour already battering the Carolina coastline, storm surges have already started to destroy homes and overflow onto roads.

As a result, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia can expect significant coastal flooding, even if Florence hovers or moves ashore in North Carolina. "We just want prayers from everyone".

The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who made a decision to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information. Fortunately for House, he says this storm should not be a devastating event for the beach town in terms of loss of life.

"We need to stay vigilant", said Scott Rogers, deputy chief of Nash County Emergency Services. "We're fully prepared. Food, medical, everything you can imagine, we are ready".

Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2.

Regardless of whether or not Florence moves inland swiftly or stalls, risky surf conditions will extend as far to the north as Nova Scotia, as far to the south as the east-central Florida coast and the northeast-facing shoreline of the Bahamas and as far to the east as Bermuda.

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