In Summary
  • More than one million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been told to flee their homes as the hurricane churns across the Atlantic Ocean towards the coast.

  • The NHC said Florence is expected to begin "re-strengthening later today and continue a slow strengthening trend for the next day or so."

  • In Charleston, South Carolina, residents were making preparations to leave Tuesday while others planned to ride out the storm.

  • In neighbouring Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan said his state was readying for potentially "historic and catastrophic rainfall, life-threatening flooding, and high winds."

CHARLESTON,

Hurricane Florence would deliver a "direct hit" to the US East Coast, emergency officials warned on Tuesday, urging residents to heed evacuation orders and seek shelter from the potentially catastrophic storm.

More than one million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been told to flee their homes as the hurricane churns across the Atlantic Ocean towards the coast.

DEADLY WINDS

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Florence remained a Category 4 hurricane as of 11am (1500 GMT) packing deadly winds of 130 miles per hour (215 kilometers per hour).

"This storm is not going to be a glancing blow," said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"This storm is going to be a direct hit," Mr Byard told a press conference in Washington, warning of the potential for massive damage, flooding, power outages and loss of life.

Urging residents to evacuate, he said Florence was "the strongest storm to target the Carolinas and this part of the country in decades."

The NHC said Florence is expected to begin "re-strengthening later today and continue a slow strengthening trend for the next day or so."

STATE OF EMERGENCY

It said Florence is expected to be an "extremely dangerous major hurricane" when it makes landfall in the Carolinas on Thursday, bringing life-threatening storm surge to coastal areas.

A state of emergency has been declared in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington amid concern over potential torrential rain and flooding.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said the emergency was "effective immediately" and "ensures that we will have the resources we need to prepare."

The last time the US capital declared a state of emergency was in January 2016 when a winter storm dubbed "Snowzilla" blanketed the capital region in knee-deep snow.

In Charleston, South Carolina, residents were making preparations to leave Tuesday while others planned to ride out the storm.

STREETS QUIET

Streets were quiet with schools and many offices and businesses closed.

Michael Kennedy, an engineer at Boeing, said he planned to leave on Tuesday for his parents' home in Atlanta, Georgia.

But his partner, Emily Whisler, said she will remain behind at the university where she is a resident in the psychiatry programme.

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