No Hurricane Florence evacuation orders for Jasper, Beaufort

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Hurricane Florence is now expected to hit the Carolina coast with less powerful winds, a trade-off with increased rainfall - which may ultimately be more damaging for some areas.

A life-threatening storm surge is now highly likely along portions of the coastlines of SC and North Carolina, and a storm surge warning is in effect for a portion of this area.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, Florence was 435 miles from Wilmington, N.C., moving northwest at 16 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Although slow weakening is expected to begin by late Thursday, Florence is still forecast to be an extremely risky major hurricane when it nears the US coast late Thursday and Friday. The Wilmington area can now expect 9-to-13-foot storm surges if Florence's peak impact coincides with high tide, Brunswick County coastal areas west of Southport can expect 6-to-9-foot surges.

The commanding general says anyone remaining on base will have food, water and protection despite being in the projected path of the storm.

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Update: As of 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning, Hurricane Florence has dipped to a Category 2 hurricane strength with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour.

Similar declarations were made earlier in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The hurricane was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as sluggish and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico previous year.

A Category 4 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale, Florence was 750km south-southeast of Bermuda and the centre of the hurricane was forecast to pass between Bermuda and the Bahamas yesterday, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said.

Benson has lived in North Carolina for more than a decade and now is headed away from the hurricane's destructive path.

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Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out.

"Heed the warnings", said Byard, adding there was "well over $20 billion" in FEMA's disaster relief fund. The hurricane center said Florence will approach the coast Friday and linger for a while before rolling ashore. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said. President Donald Trump said there was nothing to fear because his administration did such good work responding to last year's storms - including Hurricane Maria, which killed 3,000 people in Puerto Rico.

In North Carolina's Wrightsville Beach, Inside Edition's Steven Fabian was told to leave his hotel, which is shutting down due to the storm.

"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.

"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said.

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