The outer edge of Hurricane Florence began buffeting the Carolinas with wind and rain on Thursday as forecasters warned the monster storm would trigger life-threatening flooding as it assaults the United States east coast. Millions were expected to lose power from the storm and restoration could take weeks.
Duke said it had more than 20,000 personnel ready to start fixing outages as soon as conditions allowed, including over 8,000 from the Duke's Carolinas utilities, 1,700 from the Midwest, 1,200 from Florida and 9,400 from other utilities. "I'm going to get killed on the road, '" Bradley said.
North Carolina will see up to eight months of rain in a two- to three-day period, National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said in a video briefing. More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.
In the meantime, "treat the inland flooding just as seriously as you would the storm surge", said Clark.
At 5pm pm (2100 GMT), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at five miles per hour, the NHC said.
Hurricane Florence weakened from a Category 4 down to a Category 2 storm Wednesday night but the massive system is still considered extremely risky and life threatening. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.