State and local officials warned residents to remain vigilant as Hurricane Florence battered the Carolina coastline with 100-mph winds and surging sea levels.
"One minute we're at a high state of alert, the next we're at a low state, but we can adapt to the situation", said Capt. Eric Abdullah, of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, who said officials were trying to stay flexible.
Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a Category 4 to a Category 2. In the Philippines, evacuations were under way with Super Typhoon Mangkhut expected to hit on Saturday in an area impacting an estimated 5.2 million people.
Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning". Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).
None more so than Adam Williams, a 38-year-old security guard watching his 17-year-old son surf the first big waves as the storm approached. The North Carolina coast has already started to feel tropical force winds today.
At least 88 people died as a result of the storm, many of whom drowned in the floodwaters, the Department of State Health Services announced a year ago. "We will know a lot more in two days and you will still have two day to get ready - so don't empty the shelves yet".
More than one million people have already been ordered to evacuate the coasts of North and SC and Virginia, with thousands more moved to emergency shelters, officials said.
"I'm not anxious at all", said Richard Ford, 34, smoking a cigarette outside one of Wilmington's five shelters.
Associated Press story by Johanthan Drew. Several airlines are allowing customers impacted by the hurricane to book flights again without paying additional fees but some fliers say that does not make finding flights any easier.
More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued.
No matter how devastating or catastrophic a hurricane or typhoon is predicted to be, there will inevitably be some people who refuse to evacuate and insist on riding the storm out-and with Hurricane Florence getting ready to assault the Carolinas, some residents of coastal areas in North and SC are doing exactly that.
Southeastern coastal North Carolina and far northeastern SC are expected to get pelted with 20 to 30 inches of rain, and some isolated spots may get up to 40 inches in 48 hours.
"I'm not going to put our personnel in harm's way, especially for people that we've already told to evacuate", Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House said.
Hurricane categories are determined by the wind speeds within the storm system, but the real threats - the amount of rainfall, flooding and storm surge - will stay the same, regardless of the wind speed, according to forecasts from the National Weather Service.
By late Thursday, people were, for better or for worse, locked into their decision: go or stay.
"Unfortunately, when storms hit is during our fall season", he said. Forecasters said the onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.
Some people responded with tweets by giving information about other people who they claimed were trapped.
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