The driving winds and pelting rain of Hurricane Florence’s western edge began to batter the United States East Coast, giving the region a taste of what’s to come as the monster storm moves ashore.
Even though the one-time Category 4 tempest has been downgraded to a Category 2, it’s still packing lethal 100-mph winds and the potential for 13-foot storm surges and 40 inches of rain, officials warned.
Experts agreed that despite Florence losing some power, it was still poised to sow just as much destruction -- if not more.
A member of the US Army walks through floodwaters near the Union Point Park Complex as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, North Carolina. Officials have warned the storm has the potential to kill "a lot of people" amid risks of "catastrophic" flooding. More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
A couple taking pictures on the banks of the Cape Fear River contend with gusts as their umbrella breaks, before the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina. Officials say that despite the gradual lowering in wind strength, the storm remains extremely dangerous because of the high volume of rainfall and storm surges predicted. Photograph: Jonathan Drake/Reuters
WATCH: Hurricane Florence weakens but could still wreak havoc
The Trent River overflows its banks and floods a neighborhood during Hurricane Florence. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent. Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill. Today the threat becomes a reality.' More than 12,000 were in shelters in North Carolina. In South Carolina, more than 400,000 people have evacuated the state's coast and more than 4,000 people have taken refuge in shelters, officials said. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Men pack their belongings after evacuating their house after the Neuse River went over its banks and flooded their street during Hurricane Florence. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
A man floats in a boat made from a metal tub and fishing floats after the Neuse River went over its banks and flooded his street during Hurricane Florence. One forecast from weather-tracking website Weathermodels.com
predicts that over the next week, the Carolinas could see as much as 11 trillion gallons of rain. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Portions of a boat dock and boardwalk are destroyed by powerful wind and waves as Hurricane Florence arrives. An estimated 3 million people across the Carolinas could be without power before long, and the lights may be out for weeks in some areas. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Residents wade through deep floodwater to retrieve belongings from the Trent Court public housing apartments after the Neuse River went over its banks during Hurricane Florence. US President Trump took to Twitter to warn about Florence, urging people to be careful and saying "we are completely ready" for the storm. On Wednesday, he said, "Don't play games with it. It's a big one." Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Waves crash underneath the Oceanana Pier as the outer bands of Hurricane Florence begin to affect the coast. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images