Some Wilmington locals stay put as Florence nears

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– Downtown Wilmington is clearing out as Hurricane Florence has begun to batter the coast with high winds, heavy rain, storm surge and flooding. 

Most businesses are now closed, but a few locals are sticking around, ready to weather the storm. 

“Then you’re sitting here and it’s like it’s a lot of hurry up and wait so we figure we’d hurry up and wait here at the local Irish Pub,” Matt McGraw said. 

He was at one of just a few businesses staying open on Thursday. 

Unlike Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, at this time, is not under a mandatory evacuation.

“A lot of work has been done. A lot of work,” one local told FOX 46.

Still, there’s no question, that the area is going to get hit hard.

“You’ve got to be ready for anything that can possibly happen,” said another. 

Wind speed was already picking up Thursday afternoon, and it’s only the beginning, and the community is trying to rally together.

“You know there’s a checklist and tips and tricks and hacks and stuff and people sharing neat ideas for how to do things,” another Wilmington neighbor said.

Some are seeking shelter on the second floor of a local bar. Others are just drinking at a bar.

“I’d rather be stranded here with my stuff. I’ve got the kids out of town but I’m staying with the house and the dog,” one woman told us. 

But even man’s best friend knows something is about to happen.

“We’re just trying to get him a little exercise before they get locked in for who knows how long.”

And people are preparing for what’s just around the corner.

“I’m kind of more anxious about the stir crazy factor,” McGraw said. 

The Wrightsville Beach Police Chief held a press conference on Thursday, saying low tide is currently looking more like high tide, so he’s interested to see what will happen as the storm progresses.