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Hurricane Florence: Over 188,000 without power as monster storm batters Carolinas

Hurricane Florence: Over 188,000 without power as monster storm batters Carolinas

The hurricane has been moving at only 3-6 miles per hour as it drops torrential rains.

Locals in the Carolina states have said they have little trust in the authorities and fear they would not get much support from central government should the area be devastated by the hurricane, given the response to the devastation caused by Maria to Puerto Rico previous year.

"Even a small prediction error could have major impacts", he said. "But I think we're ready".

The Category 1 hurricane's storm, with treacherous wind and rain, is expected to cause more damage through the weekend, pounding some of the same areas over and over.

"We're working as hard as we can", Hodges says.

More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centres were moved out of the storm's path.

Along the coast, floodwaters have been hitting inland towns near rivers that normally discharge into the ocean.

The hurricane center said the large amount of rainfall "will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding".

"We know where the water's going now so we can kind of better prepare those buildings and exhibits", she said.

"From Wilmington to Charlotte, we'll experience between a 500-year and 1,000-year flood event", Trogdon warned in a late-morning briefing.

And they say people who are truly in an emergency should call 911, not just Tweet about it.

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As the giant, 400-mile-wide hurricane pounded away, it unloaded heavy rain, flattened trees, chewed up roads and knocked out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses.

New Bern, a city of about 30,000 residents, has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Tuesday. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled.

The Reisterstown shelter has previously taken in pets displaced by natural disasters out of state, Goldband said. The National Weather Service said about 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces".

By early afternoon, Florence's winds had weakened to 75 miles per hour, just barely a hurricane and well below the storm's terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week.

More than 80,000 people were already without power as Florence began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.

Frustrated after evacuating his beach home for a storm that was later downgraded, retired nurse Frederick Fisher grumbled in the lobby of a Wilmington hotel several miles inland.

The storm is not expected to change much in strength before making landfall.

Similar declarations were made earlier in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Thousands of soldiers from their National Guard forces have been mobilized.

Most of the zoo's animal enclosures are designed with holding areas to keep them safe in inclement weather, so although animals will be ushered into those spaces, Kottyan expects to move few of them from their usual homes.

By 2 p.m. Saturday, the storm won't even be halfway across SC, forecasters say. Its designation then was "potential tropical cyclone six".