WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. — Hurricane Florence weakened to a Category 2 storm yesterday as it moves closer to the Carolinas, but officials are warning that an extreme storm surge and catastrophic flooding are still on the way.
Coastal towns up and down the Carolina coast are almost completely deserted. Officials are warning the few who stayed behind of the dangers ahead.
“You put your life at risk by staying. Don’t plan to leave once the winds and rain start,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
Forecasters predict the storm surge from hurricane florence could top 13 feet, enough to send water a half mile inland.
Firefighters in Raleigh, North Carolina are going door to door, warning people who live in flood zones.
“If the wind’s high enough, we’re going to have our employees hunker down safely,” said North Carolina head of Transportation, Joey Hopkins.
Today is the last chance for residents to get out of harms way. Officials say when the storm is at its worst, first responders may not be able to help everyone in trouble.
“That’s Myrtle Beach we’re right there….get that? He said catastrophic damage to life and property.”
Patrick Dunfey and Connor Zaya heeded the warnings. They left their South Carolina college and drove home to Massachusetts.
“If that thing hits Myrtle, it wouldn’t even be worried about getting back to school, but what are we going to get back to,” Zaya said.
Meteorologists say the storm’s uncertain path has widened the threat to include parts of Georgia. It’s also possible Florence hovers along the coastline, increasing the deadly storm surge.
Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency after forecasters suggested the Florence may be headed farther south that previously anticipated.
(Mola Lenghi, CBS News)