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The Category 4 storm was expected to start hitting the North and SC coasts sometime Thursday or Friday, and should make landfall near Wilmington, N.C., early Saturday morning, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

"We will experience power outages, we will have infrastructure damage, there will be homes damaged, there will be debris on the roads - this will be a storm that creates and causes massive damage to our country", announced Jeffrey Byard, Response and Recovery administrator for FEMA.

Speaking at a news conference, the official said the hurricane was expected to spread out into the Central Appalachian mountains, the Tennessee Valley, and southeastern parts of the USA after Saturday. The storm is set to bring heavy rains and damaging winds, particularly in areas along the Atlantic coast, and will be the most intense during the overnight hours of September 14.

"It's likely we'll get significant flooding and high winds", he said.

Forecasters said it's still too early to declare an all clear just yet. "It's going to have tremendous impact on our weather and local conditions".

To ease the heavy traffic leaving the coast, SC reversed freeways lanes to allow traffic to flow away from the coming storm.

Hurricane Florence put a corridor of more than 10 million people in the crosshairs Wednesday as the monster storm closed in on the Carolinas, uncertainty over its projected path spreading worry across a widening swath of the Southeast.

Savage, soaking Hurricane Florence nears Carolina coast
Hurricane Florence shifts south as Georgia and Carolinas hunker down

As of the 5am update from the National Hurricane Center, Florence is still a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour and gusts 160-170 miles per hour.

The storm will slow down because of pushback from a trough - an extended area of low atmospheric pressure - now over Texas, Stacy Stewart, an NHC senior hurricane specialist, said in the update.

The National Hurricane Center says storm surge from Hurricane Florence could be up to 13 feet in some areas of North Carolina.

Now located around 530miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, Florence is expected to make land on Thursday or Friday this week. That could punish a longer stretch of coastline, and for a longer period of time, than previously thought. Nathan Deal issued an emergency declaration for the entire state to ease regulations on trucks hauling gasoline and relief supplies.

A state of emergency has been declared in D.C. and in states, including Virginia and the Carolina's. While it may or may not officially become a Category 5 storm, it will still be a major Hurricane at landfall.

The coastal surge from Florence could leave the eastern tip of North Carolina under more than 9 feet of water in spots, projections showed. Thousands of Marines and their families evacuated from Camp Lejeune, leaving the rest to dig in ahead of what could be a direct hit. It is possible that other changes to the path may occur. "These enormous waves are produced by being trapped along with very strong winds moving in the same direction [as] the storm's motion".

One woman told MSNBC she would be staying at home in Wilmington, NC with her two children despite the storm.

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