The U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Friday that Hurricane Ian is expected to produce a life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions along the Carolina coast later in the day and will likely produce flooding rains across the Carolinas and southwestern Virginia.
According to the Hurricane Center, a storm surge warning means "there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline." The agency urged people to follow evacuation orders and other instructions from local officials.
A hurricane warning means that "Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion," according to the Hurricane Center.
Ian has maximum sustained winds of 85 kph with higher gusts.
Ian left a path of destruction in Florida, and U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday pledged the federal government will do whatever has to be done to help Florida rebuild.
Speaking from the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, Biden said he had spoken with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and approved his requests for an expedited major disaster designation.
He said that means the federal government will cover the costs of removing all debris and rebuilding public buildings. The federal government will also provide funds to help cover the costs of rebuilding homes and recovering property for those who do not have enough insurance.
Biden said Ian could prove to be the deadliest storm ever to hit Florida by the time its effects are finally determined.
At a news conference earlier in the day, DeSantis said the extent of deaths and injuries was unclear, as rescue workers were only starting to respond to calls after not being able to go out during the treacherous conditions. Rescue crews were working by land, sea and air to reach stranded residents.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.