Millions of power outages expected from Hurricane Florence across the Carolinas

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A gas station is out of service before the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina, the United States, on September 12, 2018.

Most of the North and SC coastlines are under storm surge and hurricane warnings or watches.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center predicted that after making landfall, the storm will produce torrential rain that would inundate all of SC, a large part of North Carolina, as well as parts Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.

Gov. Roy Cooper is urging North Carolina residents to take all necessary precautions in advance of incoming Hurricane Florence.

Though the hurricane has been downgraded to a Category 3, the National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane and storm surge warnings for much of the coastline across North Carolina and SC, and expects life-threatening conditions in the coming days.

Life-threatening storm surges of up to 13 feet were also forecast in some areas along with the possibility of tornadoes in North Carolina.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state. But it could have been worse: Labor Day marked the end of the peak tourism season in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and other coastal getaways.

More than 1 million have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia. The storm was moving northwest at 17 miles per hour (28 km/h).

Those risks include high winds, prolonged heavy rainfall and storm surge, he said, but the amount of each is constantly changing.

Two other tropical storms - Isaac and Olivia - have also been in the vicinity this week, with the National Weather Service estimating that some 10.15 million people lived in areas under either hurricane or tropical storm warnings.

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He warned that Florence could be "one of the biggest ever to hit the East Coast".

Almost 3,000 people are estimated to have died in the United States territory as a result of that devastating Category 4 storm. "We have a lot of new residents who have come into our state since then and some are still convinced we don't have hurricanes", Farmer said.

The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore.

The storm is now barrelling along at 17 miles per hour, but is expected to slow significantly, which will allow strengthening and a prolonged period of lingering overland, which could see serious devastation.

William Manley, a spokesman for the Florida National Guard, said the National Guard will not deploy units to assist unless the affected states - the Carolinas in this case - request help. At least two dozen utility trucks gathered near Charlotte Motor Speedway to prepare to move in and start restoring power as soon as conditions are safe.

The shopping list for people who have made a decision to ride out the storm at home: plywood to board up their windows, sandbags, bilge pumps, generators, trash bags, potato chips, bottled water and wine.

Forecasters say the storm is likely to remain constant in strength, weakening only after the center of the storm moves inland.

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

"This is shaping up to be a catastrophic storm that could potentially be as devastating as Hurricane Hazel was in 1954 - the worst one we have seen in the past seven or eight decades - but right now nobody knows for certain", Causey said.

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