WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Nearly one million people along the North Carolina coast are under a mandatory evacuation order.
People outside Jimmy's Red Dogs at Wrightsville Beach were seen praying together on Wednesday, telling FOX 46 the believe it might be the only thing more powerful than Hurricane Florence.
"When something like this happens, they all come together and help,” said Jimmy Gileece, the owner of a music club just a block away from the shore. He says this is the first day he's ever closed the club.
"I’m afraid it's going to be weeks,” Gileece said.
Sand bags were piled up and windows were boarded all around town.
"It's going to wreck the town, but it's going to be ok,” one resident said.
This North Carolina town is trying to stay positive.
"We'll just have to see what happens,” said another.
But the anticipation is starting to get to them.
"Day after day, after day, after day, ‘it's coming, it's coming, it's coming,’ whereas a storm in the Midwest-- it comes and goes,” Tom Tarrant said. He just moved to the area.
“It's a beautiful beach, I’m hoping it's still here,” said Tarrant.
More and more people cleared out as the deadline for mandatory evacuations approached.
"Usually there's still people bustling around, especially when it's nice like this out,” said one local.
Police are checking out the area with mandatory evacuations in effect. They're trying to make sure no one tries to stick around.
"I did it when I was younger and dumb and it was a Cat. 3. This is a Cat 4. It's going to be, unfortunately, devastating,” another resident told FOX 46.
The concern is real, and once Florence rolls out, everyone knows, that's just the beginning.
"As soon as they'll let us back on the island we'll have a team ready to roll to start the rebuild."