The center of Florence, no longer classified as a major hurricane but a grave threat to life and property, is expected to hit North Carolina's southern coast Friday, then drift southwest before moving inland on Saturday, enough time to drop as much as 40 inches (1 meter) of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Gillikin says the North Carolina Coastal Reserve stands ready to respond with whatever resources they can to help any animal suffering after the storm.
Time is running short to flee Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm zeroing in on the Southeastern coast with more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights. Florence is now at the weakest of five categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Observation stations at the coast recorded wind speeds of more than 80 miles per hour, the advisory said.
In Virginia, where about 245,000 residents were ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, officials urged people to remain away from home despite forecast changes showing Florence's path largely missing the state. Poor people are less likely to evacuate since they can't afford to travel and stay in other regions.
Don't relax, don't get complacent. "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said.
Another live stream at Wilmington Tower, which usually broadcasts sweeping views of the North Carolina landscape, shows storm clouds rolling in over the ocean.
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. I'm glad we both came to the decision ourselves. "We just want prayers from everyone".
The storm's center was about 50 miles south of Morehead City at around 11 p.m. EST (0300 GMT Friday). The main highway in the Outer Banks was closed in parts as seawater pushed in.
WXII-TV reports the city of New Bern said Friday that two out-of-state FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more teams were on the way.
In the North Carolina town of Wilmington, which could take a direct hit from Florence, wind gusts were stirring up frothy white caps into the Cape Fear River.
Water levels have risen in Pamlico Sound and Emerald Isle and forecasters expect them to keep going up as the tides come in.
Gerst tweeted some more images and warnings to the people in the path of the storm.
The hurricane was seen as a major test for the country's Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago.
"I've never been one to leave for a storm but this one kind of had me spooked", Epperson said.
Trump provided no evidence to support his challenge.
Hurricane Florence evacuees were met with standstill traffic on Interstate 95 late Wednesday afternoon extending more than 30 miles north of the South Carolina-Georgia border, according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation's 511 traffic map.
Duke Energy, the nation's No. 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.
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