RALEIGH (WTVD) —
Hurricane warnings have now been issued for parts of North Carolina as Matthew – now downgraded to a Category 2 storm – continues its slow trek up the U.S. east coast.
President Obama has approved Governor Pat McCrory’s request for a federal disaster declaration for 66 counties in central and eastern North Carolina.
A flash flood watch has been issued for much of the central part of the state.
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The North Carolina coast from the state line with South Carolina northeast to Surf City are under a hurricane warning, from Surf City up to Duck a tropical storm warning has been issued and a hurricane watch has been issued from Surf City to Cape Lookout.
“The newest path has taken it a little further north,” said ABC11 Chief Meteorologist Chris Hohmann.
That could mean more rain in the Triangle and the Sandhills.
A grim Governor Pat McCrory reacted to the new forecast at a news briefing Friday afternoon.
“What we feared is now happening in North Carolina,” he said. “The immediate concern is now life-threatening rain and water throughout our state. This has the potential for North Carolina to see the worst flooding since Hurricane Floyd in 1999.”
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South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is warning her state’s residents of the danger Matthew poses. “This is going to hurt,” she said at a press conference Friday morning. “We are trying to reduce lives lost as much as we can.”
The new path now brings Matthew closer to Wilmington and it is expected to impact the area as category one storm Saturday night with winds around 85 miles per hour.
Hurricane Matthew’s howling wind and driving rain continues to pummel Florida, leaving at least three people dead. President Obama warned that he’s concerned about storm surge and that as the hurricane moves north, areas such as Jacksonville, Florida, and Georgia might be less prepared.
A flash flood watch is in effect through Sunday evening for areas south and east of Raleigh, including Fayetteville, Southern Pines, Wilson, and Goldsboro.
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“We saw several inches of rain last week in parts of the Sandhills,” ABC11 Meteorologist Don Schwenneker said. “And even though we’ve has some dry time, rivers and creeks are still up.”
Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday morning he’s worried about current projections of Hurricane Matthew that show the storm could lead to heavier rains than previously estimated at or near the coast and power outages from high winds.
“We have seen how powerful this storm is,” McCrory said. “I’m urging residents in central and eastern North Carolina to be alert, monitor the storm closely and be prepared to evacuate if it becomes necessary. We’re very concerned about the heavy rainfall and winds we’re expecting during the next 72 hours. The rains will likely bring heavy flooding and storm surge in coastal areas and dangerous conditions and significant power outages throughout central and eastern North Carolina.”
He says the North Carolina National Guard and emergency equipment are being assembled, including high-water vehicles and swift-water rescue teams.
At Fort Bragg, soldiers are prepared to deploy on short notice if they are called to assist those who suffer from damage or other problems because of the hurricane.
WATCH: Gov. McCrory on flooding concerns
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Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered an evacuation of the entire Georgia coast, covering more than a half-million people. It was the first hurricane evacuation along the Georgia coast since 1999, when the state narrowly escaped Floyd.
A state of emergency has been declared in Wilmington and Gov. McCrory extended his state of emergency to all 100 North Carolina counties as Hurricane Matthew continues to make its way towards our coast. McCrory said he spoke to President Barack Obama Thursday about the state’s storm preps.
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McCrory has said North Carolina will be offering resources to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
South Carolina’s governor has declared a state of emergency and ordered the evacuation of coastal communities.
However, McCrory said that he wouldn’t be moving any resources from our state in the event the hurricane changes course and takes aim at North Carolina.
WATCH: Chris Hohmann discusses the strongest side of a hurricane
With the hurricane’s approach, thousands of flight cancellations to and from Florida have been reported across the country, including at Raleigh Durham international.
In Raleigh, Derrick Remer, Emergency Management & Special Events Manager with the City of Raleigh said crews are on standby ready to work through the weekend on 12-hour shifts, on the go 24 hours if needed. While the city is still watching and waiting, they’ve already started conversations with power crews and other emergency operations.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper is also warning residents about scams connected to Hurricane Matthew.
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ABC11’s team of meteorologists continues to watch the storm and where its path may go.
WATCH: Chris Hohmann explains how hurricanes are categorized
Meanwhile, Duke Energy is on alert as they track the storm’s path. They say they’re preparing for a major power outage event.
The state’s largest energy provider hasn’t had to prepare for this kind of potential storm, in some time.
The Red Cross is also urging residents in Eastern North Carolina to be prepared.
“The better prepared folks are, the safer they will be should Hurricane Matthew impact our coastline,” said Barry Porter, regional chief executive officer of the Red Cross in Eastern NC. “The Red Cross encourages residents to build a kit of necessities, ready their homes, and make a plan with their families.”
The ABC11 Weather Team will keep you updated with the latest.
RELATED: Airlines Cancel More Than 2,500 Flights Ahead of Hurricane Matthew
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