'Harvey of the East Coast:' Florence's worst impact could be catastrophic flooding

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The last Category 4 hurricane to plow directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people and destroyed some 15,000 homes.

Businesses and homes in the storm's path were boarded up and thousands of people had moved to emergency shelters, officials said, urging anyone who remained near the coast to flee.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the US electricity sector has been well prepared for Hurricane Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm.

Duke Energy Corp. was ordered two years ago to clean up coal-ash ponds in North Carolina that posed risks to the environment and public health.

Karen Clark & Co., which produces models for catastrophes, said that if 1989's Hurricane Hugo had hit SC in 2012, just 23 years later, insurance losses would have more than doubled to $10 billion when development and inflation are factored in.

MEAC commissioner Dennis Thomas said the game called off due to Hurricane Florence's approach, citing health and safety considerations for the players and fans.

Volvo has temporarily halted production at its SC factory as Hurricane Florence approaches the southeast coast.

At 5 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Florence was 575 miles east of Cape Fear, N.C., moving west-northwest at 17 mph. Its hurricane-force winds extend up to 60 miles from the storm's center. The storm is predicted to cause massive damage with life-threatening storm surge and flooding.

The president also said the states affected could get "more water than we have ever seen in a storm or a hurricane".

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A hurricane watch is now in effect for hundreds of miles of the U.S. East Coast, from Edisto Beach in SC up north to the North Carolina-Virginia border.

If Florence slows to a crawl just off the coast, it could bring torrential rains to the Appalachian mountains and as far away as West Virginia, causing flash floods, mudslides and other unsafe conditions.

Coastal areas need to be concerned of storm surge, heavy winds, and potentially tornadoes, while Porter also stressed there is a strong possibility of the storm "stalling out for days" once it moves inland.

At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other storms, Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac, but neither packs the deadly punch of Florence.

"All the rainfall we're going to have, plus you talk about the wind - that means a lot of trees coming down, it's a lot of power outages, a lot of impacts with this system", Graham said.

"This will have a storm surge in the 20-foot range", Myers said.

According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, people caught in a Category 4 storm can expect to see "catastrophic damage". The Federal Emergency Management Agency is warning residents to get out while roads are still open and uncrowded. Because of the amount of rain expected, "historic" flooding could occur from Thursday through Sunday. Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different.

Power companies warned residents may be without power for days or weeks.

A Category 4 storm has sustained winds from 130-156 miles per hour. He says that "over the years the state government and the federal government have become very coordinated in their ability to manage the pre-deployment of assets (and) the response to the citizens of those states, and we will soon be into the recovery".

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