Eerie photos show empty supermarket shelves and desolate streets before Hurricane Florence hits

Hurricane Florence began dumping rain on the North Carolina coast Thursday morning, with the storm’s center expected to hit the East Coast by the evening.

Evacuations have been ordered in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, with residents bracing themselves for up to 40 inches of rain and 13 feet of storm surge. The hurricane’s winds have slowed to a Category 2 level, but Florence remains deadly as it approaches.

As millions of people in the Carolinas seek shelter before the storm, streets have emptied, store shelves have been cleaned out, and gas stations have run out of fuel. The following photos show residents’ preparation efforts before the hurricane’s arrival.

Roads that are normally busy are now desolate after people vacated their homes.

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesOcean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on September 12, 2018.

Many businesses are closed and boarded up, particularly in the Carolinas, which are facing the most serious threat.

Coastal cities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia received evacuation orders as Florence moves toward the US.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesWater rolls up the beach as the outer edges of Hurricane Florence reach Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, on September 13, 2018.

Over 5 million people live in areas under hurricane watches or warnings, according to the National Weather Service.

Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesA mandatory evacuation is in effect in preparation of the approaching Hurricane Florence, on September 11, 2018 in Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

People have been stocking up on food for the past few days, leaving entire shelves empty in grocery stores.

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesThe bread shelves are bare in a grocery store in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Gas stations are shutting down, and some gas pumps have been wrapped with plastic.

Here, patio furniture has been placed in a pool to keep it from flying away during the storm.

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesA photo of a pool in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, taken on September 12, 2018.

Some people living by the beach have surrounded their homes with sand bags.

Many buildings have been boarded up ahead of the hurricane’s arrival.

Some of the boarded up windows include information about nearby shelters.

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