Duke Energy has 20,000 linemen on standby for Hurricane Florence

Eastern Time on Thursday.

Although the storm's current path and potential damage remain hard to predict, catastrophe risk modeler Risk Management Solutions (RMS) has projected insured losses resulting from the hurricane of between US$15 billion and US$20 billion, additionally noting that Florence will be the strongest hurricane to make landfall in North Carolina since 1954.

The Duke Energy outage map can be found here.

"Make no mistake - whether the eye of the storm makes landfall along our shores or farther south, we're on the wrong side of it", Cooper said. The Weather Channel estimated that up to three million customers might lose power in the Carolinas due to Florence. A Wilmington mother and her infant child were the first two fatalities attributed to the storm.

Florence's weakening as it neared the coast created tension between some who left home and authorities who anxious that the storm could still be deadly.

Mayor Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune told CNN traffic out of the SC city has more than quadrupled as residents and visitors evacuate.

A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore.

Florence's storm surge will probably be 7 to 11 feet (more than 2 to 3 meters) above ground in parts of North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Over 1,400 flights have been cancelled, according to FlightAware, as most of the coastal region's airports are closed to ride out the storm.

The hundreds of cancellations at Charlotte's airport, a major hub for American Airlines, were largely by regional affiliates that fly between Charlotte and smaller airports along the coast. Work will begin when conditions safely allow, the notice stated.

Along the waterfront in Myrtle Beach, S.C., a city dependent on tourism, stores and restaurants were boarded up, with some protective plywood spray-painted with quotes of encouragement.

Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the floodwaters.

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The hurricane was "wreaking havoc" and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days", the governor said.

Carolina Beach lies on a narrow strip of land in the southern part of North Carolina. "Corn harvest ranges 75 percent in the east to just beginning in the west", said Steve Troxler, the state's agricultural commissioner. "So being medical field we don't really have a choice, I mean we have a choice, but we knew it we signed up for getting into it".

Winds and rain were arriving later in SC, and a few people were still walking on the sand at Myrtle Beach while North Carolina was getting pounded.

Download the free AccuWeather app to stay up-to-date with Florence's expected track and impacts to the U.S.

Government disaster management agencies have encouraged evacuation.

Warning of looming storm surges of nine to 12 feet (2.7-3.6 meters), he urged residents to take the storm seriously no matter the category, saying "this is all about the water anyway".

Power was expected to remain out in come locations for days.

"I hope they made the right decision".

The overall forecasts for rainfall and storm surge stayed the same, despite the wind speed decrease.

Why is he open when the town is mostly evacuated?

Governor of South Carolina Henry McMaster has ordered the evacuation of most of the state's coastline as the storm approaches. Athletic events, notably college football games, also were postponed. Wind damage is expected as well, with hurricane-force sustained winds and wind gusts topping 100 miles per hour in some places. Hurrican Helen, Tropical Storm Isaac, and Subtropical Storm Joyce are all churning.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina. Low-income residents and the elderly face disproportionate consequences from lack of food and water, loss of electricity, and other elements indirectly and directly attributable to a hurricane.

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