'Life-Threatening' Hurricane Florence Closes In On US East Coast

'This is a big storm': Results could be catastrophic

Steady streams of vehicles full of people and belongings flowed inland Tuesday as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper tried to convince everyone on North Carolina's coast to flee.

While some in coastal North Carolina said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast, many weren't taking any chances.

"This is not going to be a glancing blow", said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The hurricane center's projected track Wednesday had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast from Thursday night until landfall Saturday morning or so, about a day later than previously expected.

Officials can't overstate the potential danger the storm could bring, with the National Weather Service recently saying Florence will likely be the "storm of a lifetime" for the Carolina coast.

Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia.

Shepard Smith and Flaherty said reports showed storm surge from the system is likely to be felt dozens of miles inland, including along the Neuse River Basin - which stretches inward from New Bern toward Rocky Mount and Nashville, N.C.

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"Once Florence moves inland, it's going to dump tremendous amounts of rain on the Carolinas and Virginia ", Eck said . The storm was traveling west at 6 miles per hour and had maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour .

In Virginia, about 1,000 prisoners at the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake were relocated Monday after the governor issued a mandatory evacuation for low-lying coastal areas.

He said the federal government and first responders are ready to assist, but that 'bad things can happen when you're talking about a storm this size'.

"This storm is going to be a direct hit". It could stall just off the coast and then drift south along the SC coast and possibly make a landfall as a weaker system if it doesn't make it clearly over the coast of North Carolina. Governors of those states have already declared states of emergency, as have the governors of Virginia and Maryland.

The storm is expected to hit the Carolinas hard later this week.

This story will be updated as more information is available regarding the reopening of schools. "I'll tell you, agriculture is in the heart of that bull's eye". "If we try to leave, we'll just get stuck in the rain", she said.

Charleston, resident William Belli said he would not be among those joining the exodus. Ahead of what is projected to be massive devastation for several Southeast states, NASA has released high-definition footage of the storm as viewed from the International Space Station above the Atlantic Ocean.

Walking his dog along empty streets, Belli said he's well stocked with food and water.

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