Florence pummels the Carolinas

By Brian Ries, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Paul P. Murphy and Eric Levenson, CNN
8:11 a.m. ET, September 17, 2018
7:12 p.m. ET, September 11, 2018

Ham radios used in Hurricane Maria aftermath sent to South Carolina

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

The American Radio Relay League said it sent seven ham radio kits to South Carolina to assist with emergency communication ahead of Hurricane Florence.

The group used the same kits in Puerto Rico last September, when Hurricane Maria knocked out power to most of the island. Shortwave radio was key to communicating in Puerto Rico.

For more than a century, this group has served as a hub for amateurs licensed to operate the dependable, if archaic, medium known as ham radio and eager to pitch in when disaster strikes.

Here's a look at the radio kit:

6:51 p.m. ET, September 11, 2018

At least 2 hospitals are evacuating patients before Florence makes landfall

From CNN's Gisela Crespo and Andrea Diaz

At least two South Carolina hospitals -- Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital and Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital -- started evacuating their patients ahead of Hurricane Florence.

In a statement, Tidelands Health said patients were being transferred to hospitals outside of the storm area. 

Cindy Lemasters Parsons shot this video Monday evening of a fleet of ambulances driving with lights and sirens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.  

Mike Goldberg took this video of a second convoy near Charleston, South Carolina:

6:24 p.m. ET, September 11, 2018

Gas station in North Carolina runs out of fuel for second day in a row

From CNN's Kaylee Hartung

A Shell gas station in Wilmington, North Carolina, ran out of fuel again Tuesday, as residents fled the area ahead of Hurricane Florence.

This is the second consecutive day the station has ran out of gas.

The business expects to refill its supplies overnight.

6:06 p.m. ET, September 11, 2018

A close look at the eye of the storm

A satellite, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, recorded this video of the eye of Hurricane Florence on Tuesday afternoon.

What we know about the storm: Tropical-storm-force winds are due to reach the coasts of North and South Carolina on Thursday morning, and hurricane-force winds may be felt around Thursday night, ahead of an anticipated Friday morning landfall.

Florence is one of the strongest hurricanes to churn toward the eastern seaboard in decades.

5:35 p.m. ET, September 11, 2018

This is the scene at a Wilmington Walmart today

From CNN's Dianne Gallagher

Shoppers emptied shelves at a Walmart in Wilmington, North Carolina, today, as residents brace for Hurricane Florence. 

The store is working to prepare its wares, too.

5:18 p.m. ET, September 11, 2018

Airbnb hosts offer free temporary housing to evacuees and first responders

Airbnb activated its "Open Homes" program Tuesday to allow its hosts to offer free temporary housing to Hurricane Florence evacuees and first responders.

Since Airbnb activated the program, more than 130 hosts offered housing to Hurricane Florence evacuees, emergency relief workers and volunteers.

For more details, check out Airbnb.

5:34 p.m. ET, September 11, 2018

Hurricane warning issued along South Carolina and North Carolina coasts

From CNN's Dave Hennen

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning Tuesday for much of the South Carolina coast, and all the North Carolina coast.

The warning extends from north of Charleston, South Carolina, up the Virginia border. A storm surge warning also covers the same area. 

This includes Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, the Outer Banks, and the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. 

Winds increased to 140 mph, with even higher gusts.

Florence will likely remain a very dangerous and major hurricane through landfall, which is expected sometime Friday.

Here's the latest hurricane forecast:

4:50 p.m. ET, September 11, 2018

US Coast Guard shuts down ports in North Carolina ahead of storm

From CNN’s Kaylee Hartung, Janet DiGiacomo and Hollie Silverman

Ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina, will shut down Wednesday in preparation for Hurricane Florence, according to Cmdr. Bion Stewart of the US Coast Guard Sector North Carolina.

Six hundred people with the Coast Guard sector are immediately available to assist with additional resources, and teams are ready to respond to shallow water rescues, he said.

Because their station in Wilmington is subject to flooding, they will move their incident post to Seymore Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina. They started moving resources outside of the area a week ago in preparation for the storm, Stewart said.

Fresh water flooding is big concern inland, he said.

4:15 p.m. ET, September 11, 2018

Some Myrtle Beach residents plan to ride out the storm

From CNN’s Nick Valencia

Jeff Bryant (L) and James Evans board the windows of a business ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 11, 2018 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Traffic appeared light in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but the area’s congressman believes that’s because a mass exit has already taken place. 

“They’re going to be on their own if they stay,” said South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice.

“This is very serious and life threatening. There is going to be no one here to save you if you stay.”

Still, more than half of the Myrtle Beach-area residents and visitors who spoke to CNN today said they were not planning to leave.

A store's bread shelves are bare as people stock up on food ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence on Sept. 11, 2018 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

CNN witnessed plenty of empty store shelves, several small lines for gas and mostly calm residents.

But the warnings from officials remained dire.

“This is a storm as big or bigger than Hurricane Hugo, with potentiality a more catastrophic effect,” Rep. Rice said.