‘Monster’ hurricane nears Carolina coast

WILMINGTON, North Carolina (AP) – Coastal residents fleeing a potentially devastating blow from Hurricane Florence encountered empty gasoline pumps and depleted store shelves as the monster storm neared the Carolina coast with 140mph winds and drenching rain that could last for days.

While some said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast, many weren’t taking any chances.

A steady stream of vehicles full of people and belongings flowed inland on Tuesday, and North Carolina Gov Roy Cooper tried to convince everyone to flee.

“The waves and the wind this storm may bring is nothing like you’ve ever seen. Even if you’ve ridden out storms before, this one is different. Don’t bet your life on riding out a monster,” he said.

Forecasters said Florence was expected to blow ashore today or tomorrow, then slow down and dump one to two feet of rain that could cause flooding well inland and wreak environmental havoc by washing over industrial waste sites and farms.

People line up to enter a hurricane shelter at Trask Middle School in wilmington, North Carolina. – AFP