Jason Patno, director of Charleston County's Emergency Management Department, said at a news conference this morning that local traffic should avoid both I-26 and I-526. "To those in the storm's path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place".
Hurricane Florence, growing in size despite its weakening winds, churned ever closer to the U.S. East Coast on Wednesday as evacuations expanded south from the Carolinas into Georgia to counter the threat of deadly high seas and calamitous floods.
Florence was located about 325 miles (520 km) east-southeast of Myrtle beach, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (175 km per hour), the Miami, Florida-based weather forecaster said.
The National Weather Service's best guess was that the hurricane would blow ashore Saturday morning along the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then push its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding.
In Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 people on North Carolina's Atlantic coastline along the Cape Fear River that is home to historic mansions and even a decommissioned World War Two-era battleship, streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris. "People should expect not only travel disruptions but also disruptions to daily activities related to work or school". Meacham says the state can house more than 35,000 people if needed. "You may need to move up to the second storey, or to your attic, but we are coming to get you".
Video reports from several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through rippling thigh-high floodwaters in residential neighborhoods. He said all roads leading to his neighborhood were blocked by fallen trees.
The two hardware chains said they sent a total of around 1,100 trucks.
"People could be without power for a very long time, Not days, but weeks", David Fountain, president of Duke Energy North Carolina, told Axios Wednesday.
Portions of a boat dock and boardwalk are destroyed by powerful wind and waves as Hurricane Florence arrives September 13, 2018, in Atlantic Beach, N.C.
It is expected to move across parts of south-eastern North Carolina and eastern SC, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.
Torrential rains brought about significant flooding in some areas, with the rains expected to continue over Oahu through Thursday.
Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights as it zeroes in on the Southeastern coast. Unsure of what they would find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle.
"It looks heavy outside", she said.
Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland have declared states of emergency. Officials say people refusing to evacuate could end up alone, drenched and in the dark, as rescue crews won't go out to help in winds above 50 miles per hour (80 kph).