Coastal residents wait, watch as Florence’s fury begins

  • Marge Brown, 65, says goodbye to her father, George Brown, 90, before he is evacuated from a healthcare home in Morehead City, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, as Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast. “I’d like to stay and see what happens. I’m 90 plus,” said Brown, a WWII veteran who says he’s survived a plane crash and severe burns from a laboratory fire where he once worked. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

  • Workers take boats out of the water in Wanchese Harbor as Hurricane Florence approaches the coast of the Carolinas on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Wanchese, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

  • Bob Bowman, from Virginia Beach, Va., gets some air as he kiteboards, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Virginia Beach, Va., as Hurricane Florence moves towards the eastern shore. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

  • Vickie Grate, left, waits in a shelter with her son Chris, center, and his girlfriend Sarah, who only gave their first names, for Hurricane Florence to pass after evacuating from their nearby homes, in Conway, S.C., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

  • Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

  • Body surfer Andrew Vanotteren, of Savannah, Ga., crashes into waves from Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, Sept., 12, 2018, on the south beach of Tybee Island, Ga. Vanotteren and his friend Bailey Gaddis said the waves have gotten bigger and better every evening as the storm approaches. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

WILMINGTON, N.C. — As North Carolina residents began to feel the first modest effects of a weakened Hurricane Florence on Thursday, forecasters warned the powerful storm will bring seawater surging onto land and torrential downpours.

Florence’s eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line. Then it is likely to hover along the coast Saturday, pushing up to 11 feet (3.3 meters) of storm surge and unloading water on both states. More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. The National Weather Service said about 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches.

Some ignored warnings, choosing instead to hunker down at home and take their chances. The police chief of a barrier island in Florence’s bulls’-eye said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave.

Adding to concerns, forecasters warned the larger and slow-moving storm could linger for days around the coast, leaving many without power and supplies.

Duke Energy said Florence, a Category 2 storm, could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.

Bertha Bradley said she has never favored evacuating ahead of hurricanes. Only one storm scared them enough to leave the island. But the traffic was awful.

“I said, ‘Why get on the road like this? I’m going to get killed on the road,’” Bradley said. “I should stay in my house, where I have water and food. If God’s coming for you, you can’t run from him.”

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For the latest on Hurricane Florence, visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/Hurricanes

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