Hurricane Florence's uncertain track sows fear; 10 million in crosshairs

Hurricane Florence churned through the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday

Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall by early Friday, bringing a storm surge as much as 13 feet (4 meters).

Early Wednesday afternoon in North Carolina, the storm was centered 700 kilometers (435 miles) off the coast, moving at 26 kph (16 mph) towards the United States coastline.

"It's going to destroy homes", said Jeff Byard, an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC on Thursday night and Friday, the NHC added.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state.

A state of emergency has been declared in both North and SC.

"He was thinking of coming here until this morning, and now he asked me if I wanted to come up there", he said.

At least 25 million residents are at risk from the storm and experts predict its current path could cause up to $170 billion worth of damage, hit up to 759,000 homes and businesses and become the costliest to ever hit the U.S. "Protection of life is the absolute highest priority and that's what we are doing".

One woman told MSNBC she would be staying at home in Wilmington, NC with her two children despite the storm. "I want to get them as far away as possible".

"The time to prepare is nearly over", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a morning news conference.

"I've been through hurricanes before but never with kids", she said.

William Manley, a spokesman for the Florida National Guard, said the National Guard will not deploy units to assist with natural disasters unless the affected states - the Carolinas in this case - request help.

More than 1 million have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia.

SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.

The hurricane is expected to dump heavy rain throughout the region and FEMA officials said it's not just a coastal problem. A tropical storm watch was also in effect for parts of Virginia.

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