A.M. Update: Florence weakens slightly as approaches NC coast

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Despite the potentially devastating hurricane being downgraded to category two on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, the governor of Georgia has joined his counterparts in Virginia and the Carolinas in declaring a state of emergency.

Hurricane Florence has officially hit the North Carolina coast, according to an 8 p.m. briefing by the National Hurricane Center.

As Hurricane Florence brings trillions of gallons of water ashore, the storm is headed straight for some of the largest concentrations of hog farms in the county. Flooding could prove devastating. Only one storm scared them enough to leave the island.

It could have been worse. Some flooding was forecast early in the day for parts of North Florida, but those forecasts were adjusted later to include high swells and minor coastal flooding at high tide.

In fact, as with the aftermath of previous hurricanes, the region could eventually receive an economic boost once construction crews come out to rebuild and fix damage and as insurance payments and federal disaster aid flow in.

"The ironic thing is, when there's a rebuilding effort, that can energize local economies", Walden said.

"Everyone is safe and they have a great facility to set up operations", the district said on Facebook. Hiring is likely to be especially strong in construction and at retailers that sell building materials and supplies.

In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland.

"It's cumulative damage", Myers said.

Analysts expect a temporary boost in gasoline demand as people flee Florence, followed by weaker demand during and immediately after the storm. It is expected to turn away from the U.S. Flooding closed refineries along the Texas and Louisiana coasts and caused gasoline prices to spike.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for north of Duck, NC, to Cape Charles Light, VA, and for Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

The US Army Corps of Engineers said it is monitoring two North Carolina dams - in Wake Forest and Cary - as well as three additional ones in Virginia.

"Little change in strength is expected before the center reaches the coast, with weakening expected after the center moves inland", the briefing said. But rail cars with vehicles bound for Charleston and export markets overseas have been moved to secure areas until the storm passes. It could stall just off the coast and then drift south along the SC coast and possibly make a landfall as a weaker system if it doesn't make it clearly over the coast of North Carolina. It also could cut September auto sales by about 110,000 vehicles, which would have to be made up later, he wrote.

But most of the region will be spared of significant effects from Florence.

The plentiful waste pits are one of a number of environmental hazards in the path of Florence, including Superfund sites, coal plants and chemical factories.

But even inland dealerships are bracing for damage. "It's a big one", he said at the White House.

Hurricane Florence's sustained wind speeds have lessened slightly to 105 miles per hour, but the storm is already bringing surges and tropical storm winds to the North Carolina shore, the National Hurricane Center said in an 11 a.m. briefing.

There will be hurricane-force winds up to 80 miles from the centre of the storm, meteorologists say.