>> When Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina two years ago, Fair Bluff's resident Eve Waddell thought she had witnessed a once in a lifetime disaster. But now she's packing up her family ahead of Hurricane Florence, and this time she may leave for good. Like many of the businesses in downtown, where Reuters Patrick Rucker is reporting.
>> A day or so from now, the hurricane will be passing through. But this town knows something about hurricanes already. Two years ago Matthew came through here and flooded the town, and I'll tell you people left in a hurry. Here you can see there's still all the retail basically just left abandoned cuz the retailers just never came back to reopen their business.
Now there's life around that downtown, but the downtown area is too flood prone and there's a chance, of course, that this all happens again.>> Florence is expected to slam the Carolinas on Friday and meteorologists are warning that the menacing storm could stall out over the region, dumping enormous amounts of rainfall, leading to catastrophic flooding.
That was the case with Matthew, a less powerful hurricane, that caused billions of dollars in damages in places like Fair Bluffs, where town manager Al Leonard says nearly 1,000 residents lived before Matthew. He estimates more than a quarter left after the storm and didn't return. Those who stayed are concerned it'll happen again.
>> And this river, which is so placid right now, the Lumber River, could be a big problem for this town in 24, 36 hours if this storm is as persistent and delivers as much rain as they think. That river could very easily breach the banks and be coming right into town, just as it did two years ago.
>> Officials on Wednesday sounded the alarm to take Florence seriously.>> If you've been asked to evacuate, don't wait, leave now.>> We are ready, but this is going to be one of the biggest ones to ever to hit our country.>> Now, towns like Wilmington, North Carolina are emptying out, with residents boarding up and pulling up stakes, as Florence barrels closer to the East Coast.