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south carolina evacuation

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The US East Coast is bracing for Hurricane Florence.

Evacuations have been ordered in what may be the strongest storm to hit the region in decades.

North Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency while South Carolina’s governor ordered the evacuation of its entire coastline.

According to officials, Florence is now a Category 5 storm with 130mph winds, and gaining strength.

Florence is expected to strike the Carolinas by September 13.

The storm – which was 1,200 miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, on September 10 – started the day as a Category 2 storm.

The weather system could reach Category 5 as its draws strength from the warm Atlantic waters, say forecasters.

Florence would be the first Category 4 storm to hit the region since Hugo ravaged North Carolina in 1989, wreaking $7 billion in damage and claiming 49 lives.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says the hurricane has the makings of an “extremely dangerous” meteorological event.

It may bring catastrophic levels of rain and flooding to coastal and inland regions.

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The NHC said: “There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland, and damaging hurricane-force winds.”

President Donald Trump has cancelled plans for a rally on September 14 in Mississippi because of the hurricane.

In North Carolina, there have been long queues in supermarkets around communities near waterways and coastlines as residents clear shelves of water, batteries and plywood.

Governor Roy Cooper waived agricultural transportation restrictions in order to allow farmers to move goods more quickly.

Red flag warnings are keeping swimmers off beaches, as residents sandbag their homes in the communities of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, and the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval installation in the world, is preparing to send ships away from bases to weather the storm out at sea.

Two other hurricanes are currently churning in the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricanes Isaac and Helene are expected to accelerate, but at this point, are not expected to threaten the US mainland.