On another barrier island just below the Bogue Banks, Steve Harrigan reported live from North Topsail Beach, where visitors and residents were largely heeding warnings from Gov. Roy Cooper (D-N.C.) to evacuate.
Sen. Jeff Merkley of OR said the administration was taking money from FEMA's "response and recovery" to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency at a time when Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Southeast U.S. coast.
Rainfall totals of 2 to 3 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 4 inches are possible across the south-central portion of the Dominican Republic, southwest Haiti and Jamaica.
This week is the expected peak of hurricane season, according to forecasters, so seeing these active storms churning through the Atlantic right now isn't fully unexpected.
The hurricane center is giving the system a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm within the next five days.
Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 40 miles per hour (65 km/h) with higher gusts.
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"The forecast places North Carolina in the bull's eye of Hurricane Florence , and the storm is rapidly getting stronger", Gov. AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rossi said the ground in North and SC and Virginia is already saturated from recent rains.
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The Met Office has issued a yellow status weather of wind as a result.
A Tropical Storm Watch which had been issued for St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Barbuda and Antigua was also expected to be discontinued by Thursday evening. Hurricane Isaac, stirring in the mid-Atlantic Ocean with twist rates of around 75 miles per hour, is following firmly behind Florence.
"Florence is forecast to be an extremely unsafe major hurricane as it approaches the US coast", the NHC said.
The NHC is estimating that as many as 20 inches of rain could fall in some places along the southern North Carolina coast while bringing in excess of 10 inches of rain in parts of SC.
Nonetheless Helene is bringing with her very strong wind with gusts up to 120km/h, heavy rain and waves of between 6 and 8m high on some islands.