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WILMINGTON (CBSMiami) – The first winds and rain from Hurricane Florence were felt in Wilmington, North Carolina late Thursday morning.

Those effects intensified as day turned to night.

In New Bern, the river there has already overflowed, and that’s what is expected in Wilmington as well as residents are keeping their eye on the Cape Fear River that runs through downtown.

“The water’s rising, it’s usually down lower than this,” said resident Daniel Coles.

“The constant flow going in one direction with the white caps is not normal,” added resident Doug Baker. “We don’t normally see it doing that.”

Many of the businesses in downtown Wilmington are boarded up, some better than others, as residents try to prepare for this monster storm as best as they can.

“The anxiety was really heavy for the last week. I think everywhere you go, out to the grocery stores, everyone is panicking, you can feel it. But today I think we are all kind of resigned to our fate in a way,” said Claire Holroyd with a nervous laugh.

Holroyd went for a walk Thursday morning, getting in what she figured would be her last chance to be outside for a few days. She, like many, feel some comfort with new forecast models – but no one is letting their guard down.

“We had a Category 2 go through here a couple years ago, Irene, and it was manageable. And if this has dropped to two that’s good,” said Bob Jalbert.

“Um, but the ying to the yang, I’m concerned because although it’s dropped to a two, it’s slowed down. I don’t know how long the house and the trees can endure sustained winds for so long,” said Susan Jalbert.

That’s the same thing that has forecasters worried, that the strong winds will hang around and then there’s the high potential for flooding from surge and long periods of rain.

“Flooding is insidious and has long-term ramifications for our state, generally. You just really don’t know until it happens. But yes, it does make you feel slightly better knowing you’re prepared, its the best way to relieve the panic,” said Holroyd.

Forecasters predict the storm surge from Florence could top 13 feet, enough to send water a half mile inland. They say Florence’s path has widened the threat to include parts of Georgia. Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency after forecasters suggested the Florence may be headed farther south than previously anticipated.

PHOTOS: Hurricane Florence From Space

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