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'Very dangerous' hurricane starts battering US East Coast


AFP
Myrtle Beach, United States
WINDS and waves began battering the Carolinas on Thursday as officials warned that Hurricane Florence -- while weakening slightly -- remains a"very dangerous storm"capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the US East Coast.
"Just because the wind speed came down, the intensity of this storm came down to a Cat 2, please do not let your guard down,"warned Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 storm overnight on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale but it is still packing hurricane-force winds of 105 miles per hour (165 kilometers per hour), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Winds were already picking up along the coastline on Thursday morning and Myrtle Beach was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.
"I was feeling fine until I woke up this morning and this is a ghost town,"said Kristin Beard, a 40-year-old Myrtle Beach marketer."I'm going to Charlotte."
At 11:00 am (1500 GMT), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 145 miles (230 kms) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving northwest at 10 mph (17 kph), the NHC said.
Steve Goldstein with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas for"another 36 hours."

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