Hurricane Florence could put “lives in danger” with its devastating storm surge, persistent rainfall and destructive winds.
Live video from Kitty Hawk, a beach town in North Carolina, displays the start of the stormy conditions as the hurricane approaches.
There is already a noticeable storm surge on the North Carolina barrier islands, with video already showing water damage to one home.
Hurricane Florence has now been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane but with wind speeds at a destructive 110 miles per hour.
You could be putting your life and the lives of first responders in danger
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper sent a stark warning to residents and said: “North Carolina, my message is clear: Disaster is at the doorstep, and it’s coming in.
“You could be putting your life and the lives of first responders in danger.
“If you are under an evacuation order and you haven’t left, the time to leave is now.”
The official noted that up to one million residents in North Carolina have been told to evacuate, and stressed that it is not too late to leave now.
The North Carolina Governor’s warning were echoed by his South Carolina counterpart, Henry McMaster, who warned that emergency services may nto be able to reach residents if they remain in the worst affected evacuation areas.
Mr McMaster said: “Even responders cannot stay there.”
In the latest update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Florence’s just 205 miles off Wilmington Beach South Carolina, and 250 miles off Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The NOAA is urging people not to mistake the hurricane downgrade for a lessened threat.
In the NOAA advisory, it states: “While Florence has weakened below major hurricane intensity, the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size.
“This evolution will produce storm surges similar to that of a more intense, but smaller, hurricane, and thus the storm surge values seen in the previous advisory are still valid.
“The threat of rainfall has also not diminished, and these impacts will cover a large area regardless of exactly where the centre of Florence moves.”
A state of emergency has been declared North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland and residents are on a race against time to evacuate areas at high risk of devastation.