Boeing Co suspended work on Tuesday at the SC plant where it assembles 787 widebody jetliners, and a Volvo automobile plant in South Carolina's evacuation zone was also closed, company officials said. Sustained winds were 130 miles per hour Tuesday morning, but it remains a Category 4 storm and is expected to intensify to near Category 5 status as it slows over very warm ocean water near North and SC.
The storm itself, however, is not expected to make landfall until Thursday evening at the earliest, according to the latest forecast path from the NHC. Those states plus Maryland and Washington DC have all declared a state of emergency.
The alerts also mean unsafe storm surges are likely along the coast and heavy, sustained rains could cause life-threatening flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned.
He cited forecasts showing Florence was likely to stall over North Carolina, "bringing days and days of rain".
Greg Cook carries belongings to a van as he evacuates days before the arrival of Hurricane "Florence" at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on September 11, 2018.
Forecasters: Florence to Take Aim at US East Coast as Major Hurricane
After passing the Cabo Verde Islands the system was not expected to pose a direct threat to land for at least several days. AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rossi said the ground in North and SC and Virginia is already saturated from recent rains.
Motorists streamed inland on highways converted to one-way routes yesterday as more than 1 million people in three states were ordered to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a hair-raising storm taking dead aim at the Carolinas with 210 kmh winds and potentially ruinous rains.
Florence could be only the second Category 4 storm to pummel the Carolinas since 1800, when record-keeping began.
"The safety of our Boeing teammates and their families is our top priority, and our leaders across the enterprise are closely monitoring the storm and working in conjunction with state and local governmental authorities to stay ahead of emergency situations".
"We're going to get a lot of rainfall in a relatively short time", he said, adding flooding could be "life-changing" for many.
Trump faced severe criticism for his administration's response to Hurricane Maria previous year in Puerto Rico.
During the BBC report residents were seen boarding up their homes to protect them from the Hurricane.
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Hurricane Florence appears ready to churn through the Carolinas, bringing along massive winds, rainfall and flooding.
Not everyone was in a hurry to leave.
Service stations started running out of gas as far west as Raleigh, with bright yellow bags, signs or rags placed over the pumps to show they were out of order.
Mr Graham said: "The water could overtake some of these barrier islands and keep on going".
Another said: "We will see what happens and hopefully we have a business to come back to".
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