Watch Hurricane Florence Make Landfall in This Incredible Space Station Video

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned that "disaster is at the doorstep" and pleaded with residents and tourists alike not to underestimate the threat to life Florence poses.

And don't be fooled by the fact that Florence has weakened slightly to a strong Category 2 hurricane. Categories only represent the speed of sustained winds, and these are still destructive.

"We can show you what this could look like, if you were to find yourself in this scenario", meteorologist Erika Navarro says.

One resident, 67-year-old Linda Smith, told the MailOnline: "We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now".

The storm officially made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15 am (local time), the National Hurricane Center said.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather with his dog Canelo. "Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km)".

Long said people in storm-damaged areas need to "get their mindset right". So will the trees. The top wind gusts were reported in Raleigh are at 39 miles per hour.

Frustrated after evacuating his beach home for a storm that was later downgraded, retired nurse Frederick Fisher grumbled in the lobby of a Wilmington hotel several miles inland.


North Carolina's Emergency Management tweeted that more than 154,000 homes were already without electricity by late Thursday.

Hurricane Florence already inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power early Friday, and forecasters say conditions will only worsen as the hulking storm slogs inland. For a depiction of areas at risk, please see the National Weather Service Storm Surge Watch/Warning Graphic, available at hurricanes.gov.

"[It's] very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", said Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house. Firefighters and police fought wind and rain going door-to-door to pull people out after the cinderblock structure began to crumble and the roof began to collapse.

Up to 40 inches of rain could fall in North Carolina. About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.

"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said.

In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland. They also instituted a 24-hour curfew. As the recovery from past storms continues in many rural towns, the next storm is about to strike.

Power suppliers report more than 350,000 outages in North Carolina, the bulk along the coast.

"Our sand dunes are healthy, but they're not going to be able to keep back a wall of water like that", he said.

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