Behold the awesome power of water.
With gusts upward of 110 miles per hour already battering the Carolina coastline, storm surges have already started to destroy homes and overflow onto roads.
"They say if you stay (home), it's at your own risk", she said, noting that emergency services personnel said they could not risk their lives rescuing anyone who had disregarded official evacuation notices. It's actually raising the ocean.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC, as well as up to 10 inches (25 cm) in southwestern Virginia. Its surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.
When Florence hit as a Category 1 hurricane early Friday, the community's rivers swelled, tides crested and the rain wouldn't stop.
Meanwhile, Superfund sites - polluted areas mandated for cleanup by the Environmental Protection Agency - dot the landscape of not just North Carolina but its neighbors as well. Storm surge invades rivers and estuaries, too.
That storm was moving through the eastern Caribbean Sea, bringing bands of rain over the Lesser Antilles, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
He said hurricane-force winds extend outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend almost 200 miles out.
And of all those, storm surge is the deadliest.
Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore.
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Boat teams including volunteers rescued some 360 residents, including Sadie Marie Holt, 67, who first tried to row out of her neighborhood during Florence's assault. Mostly people are getting better at evacuating, with three-quarters of the Florida Keys fleeing before Irma, Masters said.
Most of that excrement sits in open-air pits, known as "lagoons", which blanket the landscape of North Carolina just inland from the coast.
On the Outer Banks, some people are preparing to ride out the storm, despite an evacuation order.
"When you have a swine lagoon breech, it is going to have catastrophic impact on the river", Burdette said.
"With this storm, it's a (Category 1) but the storm surge and the flooding is going to be that of a category 4", CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Gray said Thursday night.
At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Cooper said.
Gibson said Friday that while she and her family were safe, she and her husband had gotten around 75 calls and texts from others asking for help.
Yet another tropical storm formed in the Atlantic Thursday night. That's particularly risky because the ocean comes back quickly with 6 feet (2 meters) or more of water.
Soren Rundquist, Environmental Working Group's director of spatial analysis, said if the rainfall projections hold up, the flood waters will simply take what was sprayed on the fields with them, along with what spills out of the pits. If a large rock in thrown in, it spills over.
Seas have risen from global warming, making all of this even worse. "Stay away from the water at all costs". "Today the threat becomes a reality".
The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. His work can be found here.