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US prepares for monster Hurricane Florence and catastrophic flooding

Hours before Hurricane Florence is expected to begin its assault on the Carolinas, officials warned of hurricane-force winds, catastrophic flooding, storm surges up to 13 feet and widespread power failures as they urged residents to get out while there was still time.

Florence, now a Category 3 storm packing winds of 120 miles an hour, is expected to pummel the region for days, starting with heavy winds along the coast on Thursday morning. The hurricane will then gather strength and spread inland as the center of the storm edges toward the coast on Friday afternoon, bringing torrential rainfall of up to 40 inches that will continue through Saturday and Sunday.

Here are the latest developments from the New York Times:

• The major power supplier for North and South Carolina, Duke Energy, said that the storm could knock out power for up to three million customers across the two states and that it could take several weeks to restore electricity.

• The storm was predicted to slow and the eye could stall just offshore, battering the coast with high waves and dropping as much as 20 to 40 inches of rain in flood-prone coastal areas.

• The center of the storm was in the Atlantic Ocean about 385 miles from Wilmington, N.C., on Wednesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said. It was forecast to crawl inland from Friday and into Saturday morning, drenching areas far from the coast as the storm butts against the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains.

• The storm’s maximum sustained winds had eased slightly to 120 m.p.h., and forecasters said that its strength would fluctuate in the hours ahead. (Here’s a guide on how the different categories of storms are classified.)

• President Trump promised that the federal government was “ready for the big one.” In a post on Twitter, Mr. Trump once again boasted about the government’s response last year to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where 3,000 people died. Read more here.

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Houses on Folly Island, S.C., were secured ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence on Wednesday. Credit Johnny Milano for The New York Times

• The governor of Georgia became the latest to declare a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence, joining Maryland, Virginia and North and South Carolina.

• Officials in South Carolina said they were unnerved to learn that the projected path of the hurricane had veered south. Gov. Henry McMaster said Wednesday that 300,000 people in the state had evacuated.

Here’s how to prepare to evacuate your home ahead of Hurricane Florence.

Are you in the path of Hurricane Florence? We want to hear from you.

We bring you updates on Hurricane Florence from the New York Times.

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