Hurricane Florence has weakened but will still be devastating

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U.S. forecasters late Thursday, September 13, downgraded Hurricane Florence to a Category 1 storm, as its outer edge lashed the Carolinas with strong winds and heavy rain.

Even if Florence were downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, it would still cause extensive damage, Abrams says.

Industrial waste, including toxic ash from power plants, could also be spread by flooding from the massive storm, which has caused mandatory evacuations of coastal areas in both Carolinas and Virginia, the AP reports.

The images, captured from249 miles above the storm, captured Florence as it draws close to North Carolina's coast.

Florence had once been a Category 4 storm, but even as a Category 1, it could still packs winds of 90 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricanes can push masses of water from the sea over land when they come ashore, raising local sea levels by as much as 20 feet (6 meters), according to the National Hurricane Center.

The mayor of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, said authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland.

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Marco Petagna, a Met Office forecaster, told the Sun Online: "Storm Helene is still in the Atlantic but it could have an influence in Britain next week".

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference, that a "historic storm" would unleash rains and floods that would inundate nearly the entire state.

"This is no ordinary storm, and people could be without power for a very long time - not days but weeks", a president of one energy company in North Carolina said on Wednesday. "We just want prayers from everyone". "Well, we're about to get punched in the face".

Myrtle Beach, a SC beach resort, was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

Hurricane Florence is beginning to bear down on the Carolinas with heavy winds and rising tides.

Tornadoes are possible in eastern North Carolina through Friday.

A gauge in the city of 30,000 people showed the Neuse River was recording 9.6 feet of inundation, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

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"But we can't replace us so we chose to come here".

In was 1989 when Hurricane Hugo pummeled the Carolinas, causing tremendous destruction - killing 21 people in the USA and 29 in the Caribbean and leaving behind an estimated US$8 billion in damage.

Officials in the potential path of Florence urged people to evacuate their coastal homes and directed drivers away from the coast.

Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Some residents have ignored calls to evacuate.

But, knowing the intensity of Florence's impact on Myrtle Beach, "My friends are worrying me right now", Combs said.

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