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Millions on the US coast prepare as monster storm nears

Sharon and Sammy Edwards, of Rocky Point, N. C., have lunch in one of the few restaurants open in Wilmington, N. C., as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. The Edwards’ left their home north of Wilmington to ride out the storm with Sammy’s brother in Wilmington, which is a generator. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Millions of people in the path of Hurricane Florence are frantically preparing for a monster storm expected to make landfall as early as Friday afternoon. Residents in the states of Virginia, Georgia, and especially for those who live in flood-prone areas or on the coast — must decide whether to stay or to go.

Here are some photos of a region in anticipation of the hurricane:

WAKE FOREST OPENS ITS DOORS

The home of the Wake Forest University basketball, is to serve as a temporary shelter for people who are trying to escape Hurricane Florence.

The Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem opened its doors Wednesday night for what was expected to be several busloads of Wilmington area, looking for a hiding place. By mid-morning Thursday, the arena had only 23 people who use it.

The american Red Cross shelter team manager Jaici Murcia said the colosseum was opened out of a concern that shelters closer to the coast would be overflowing. Murcia said the first word was that 500 people would come to the coliseum. Murcia said the arena is set to a maximum of 1,000 people.

“It seems that they found a number of alternative care closer to home,” Murcia said. She said several buses arrived at the shelter, and some people drove their own cars.

Shelter residents sleep on cots set up on the coliseum floor. They have access to three meals per day and take a shower. Charging points are also installed in order to the people to keep up with family members where they could be. Nurses and mental health providers are also stationed in the asylum.

Murcia said that they expected that the shelter will be open through the weekend. Winston-Salem is 221 miles (355 km) northwest of Wilmington.

SAFE, BUT BORED

The life in a Red Cross shelter may mean that the safety of the approaching Hurricane Florence, but it is really boring.

That is the observation Thursday of Charlie Wynn after about 24 hours in the high school in the town of Washington, near the coast of North Carolina.

He lives in Washington with his mother, who had a stroke a few years ago. They feared some of the many trees in her garden being blown down by the storm and wanted to get out.

Mother and his 28-year-old son came into the shelter housing up to 500 on Wednesday afternoon. Wynn said without TV, radio or Internet, he had a lot of time on his hands.

“The time goes slowly here,” he said. “It’s only 2 hours, but it seems like it should be 8 hours.”

LAST MINUTE RUN FOR SUPPLIES

Marcus Hester stopped by one of the last shops to open in the heart of Wilmington, North Carolina, Village, Market, Supermarket, to stock up on, so he could ride out the storm in his home in Wilmington.

In the Village, Market, Supermarket, Hester bought “canned food, things that do not need to be heated,” he said.

He said that he felt safe, even though Wilmington is in the current path of the storm.

“We’re 20 to 30 feet above the river. You’re not going to be any floods. We are miles from the beach,” he said.

The few restaurants still open in Wilmington were drawing hungry customers prepare to spend hours in the storm is approaching.

A Waffle House was doing brisk business with a limited menu. A waitress said employees stay in a hotel on the other side of the street and planned to stay open as long as she could, with the help of gas and generators for power.

On the Paper Crane, Asian restaurant, Sharon and Sammy Edwards ate lunch Thursday afternoon when the wind picked up outside. She said that a reverse evacuation – the drive of Rocky Point 15 km away to stay with Sammy’s brother.

They live in a low-lying area, so they felt safer to drive 10 km in the direction of the coast to stay on higher ground.

STOCKING UP AND WAITING OUTSIDE

Barbara Timberlake of Leland, North Carolina, walked with her dog to look at the turbulent Cape Fear River. She lives about 15 miles inland from Wrightsville Beach, in the path of the storm.

She said that she was born in Wilmington, and that her family always had a tradition of going to the beach to watch the ocean for a big storm. But the beaches are closed due to mandatory evacuations.

“It’s a family tradition to go look at the ocean. Now they won’t let you over the bridge, so the next best thing is an angry river,” she said.

She said that she and her husband felt safe to ride out the Hurricane Florence in their home, even though most of their neighbors have to leave the city. They think they left, because most of them are originally from the North and not used for the drive of the hurricanes.

“We are in a fairly new house in a gated community,” she said. “Everyone is gone.”

She said that she and her husband stocked up on supplies.

“We bought rum and beer. I boiled some peanuts. A lot of bottled water,” she said. “I have a gas stove so even if the electricity fails I can use it.”

WORRIED BUT CONTINUE TO SIT

Julie Terrell of Wilmington decided it was safe enough to ride out the storm in her neighborhood several miles in the interior, in spite of her worries about the falling trees.

On Thursday, she walked along a row of shops, reinforced with boards, sandbags, and hurricane shutters to look at the turbulent Cape Fear River that can flood and inundate the city centre shops. They popped up in a Waffle House restaurant, one of the few still open.

Winds were caused by traffic lights to swaying Spanish moss in the trees blowing sideways.

She said that she is worried about damage in her neighborhood of old trees.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m probably a 7″ in terms of worries, ” she said.

“Because it is Mother Nature. You can not predict.”

“We have a number of old trees in our neighborhood. Everything is old, so that’s about it,” she said.

CRAVING DOWN WITH THE CATS

A South Carolina family live two blocks from the ocean thought long and hard about leaving before the Hurricane Florence hit, but they just couldn’t afford it.

Mercedes O’neill said she is afraid of her North Myrtle Beach home with her friend, and her 6-year-old daughter and a son due Sept. 27 when the winds and rain pick up. But she says she could not afford to stay in a hotel or drive to a shelter. And they did not want to leave her cats behind.

A member of the family rented a room, but if the storm is delayed, they could not afford an extra day.

O’neill’s boyfriend Kelly Johnson says the couple need to go back to work as soon as they can, and returning after an evacuation may take several days.

A LAST GLASS OF WINE

Hours for a mandatory evacuation of power, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, resident Phoebe Tesh interrupted during the loading of her car to a glass of wine on the stairs of the house where she and her husband rent an apartment.

“We love it down here so much we want to spend time as we can,” she said.

Tesh, who work in the information technology, UNC-Wilmington, said she and her husband are ferrying valuables to her parents ‘ house on the mainland in Wilmington, where they plan to ride out the storm.

“We started with something that costs more than $200. Now we are down to slightly more than $30,” she said, waving in the direction of an SUV filled with plastic bins and various items, including a block of chef’s knives. “The next time we need a box truck.”

She and her husband, a professor at UNC-W, love the beach, so they sold a house on the mainland to hire full-time five years ago. They said that they usually evacuate for large storms, and even neighbors who tend to ride out hurricanes are leaving.

“We don’t know who the stay for the storm,” she said.

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Skip Foreman reported from Charlotte, North Carolina, Jeffrey Collins reported from Myrtle Beach, Am Finley from Norfolk, Jonathan Pulled out of Wilmington and Tamara Lush St. Petersburg, Florida.

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

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