Beach Town's Main Drag Empty Ahead of Hurricane Florence

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An estimated 10 million people live in areas expected to be placed under a hurricane or storm advisory, said Marc Chenard of the US Weather Prediction Center. It ranged 59 to 83 feet Wednesday morning.

The Category 2 hurricane is hours away from expected landfall on the Southeast coast with potentially catastrophic flooding and storm surge that could reach 13 feet.

"The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you've ever seen", he warned residents. The order eases regulations on trucks hauling gasoline and relief supplies into Georgia. Florence is now heading for ocean water with surface temperatures of around 85 degrees, meaning it will likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast. They said torrential rains in the mountains could easily cause flash floods, leading to extensive damage.

People fleeing coastal North and SC clogged highways Wednesday as Florence bore down on the coast for a direct hit in a low-lying region dense with beachfront vacation homes.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham called Hurricane Florence's size is "staggering."

Florence exploded into a potentially catastrophic hurricane Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds up to 140 miles per hour (220 kph) and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week.

All 22 of the FBS and FCS games scheduled this weekend in South Carolina, Washington, D.C., Virginia and North Carolina were canceled or adjusted in some way due to the storm, according to CBS' Jerry Palm.

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More than 1.7 million people were warned to evacuate and get out of the way of the "life-threatening" storm's path.

"Now is the time to shelter from life-threatening wind", the agency added.

Mr Cooper's warnings were echoed by his SC counterpart, Henry McMaster, who stated that emergency services may not be able to reach residents if they remain in areas where evacuation orders have been issued.

Mr McMaster said: "Even responders can not stay there".

"The biggest challenge has been the amount and rapid succession of unprecedented disasters", she said.

More than one million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.

The US Coast Guard said it closed the ports of Wilmington and Moorehead City in North Carolina and restricted port operations in Charleston, South Carolina. He cited forecasts showing Florence was likely to stall over North Carolina, "bringing days and days of rain".

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