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How the US southern seacoast is bracing for impact (+video)

Florida and North Carolina are preparing for the coming storm, which has hurricane potential, and plan to test the area's flooding defenses weeks after Louisiana's floods. 

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A surfer gets some air off the crest of a wave near the Surf City Pier in Surf City, N.C., Aug. 30, 2016, as incoming tide and light offshore winds create good surfing. Crowds thinned Tuesday on the beaches of North Carolina's Outer Banks ahead of a tropical weather system that threatened to bring strong winds and heavy rains that could flood low-lying areas.

John Althosue/The Daily News/AP

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Florida and North Carolina are preparing for heavy winds and high water as a pair of tropical storms are prompting warnings of tornadoes, seaside surges, and flooding.

Some tourists are clearing the southeastern coast and local officials are particularly wary as they eye the storm recovery of neighbors in Louisiana, where volunteers now flood the sodden parishes where 40,000 homes have been damaged.

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Local governments are distributing sandbags in the Florida Gulf Coast, where a tropical storm warning of 15 inches of rain has been issued.

"These types of rain totals, especially when they fall in just a few hours, could lead to flooding similar to what we saw in Louisiana just a few weeks ago," said CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers.

The state's government began to make flood preparations and issue warnings nearly a week ahead of the storm. Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) visited Tampa on Tuesday to oversee storm preparations, warning of tornadoes, storm surges, and especially flooding in a state already working to combat the spread of Zika virus. 

"Whether this is your first tropical storm or you’re a seasoned veteran of past hurricanes, you need to take this storm seriously and be prepared for the very real threats it could produce," said Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon in a statement. "Make sure your disaster supply kit is fully stocked and you have a safety plan for yourself, your family and for your workplace or business.”

The storm could become a hurricane – likely named Hermine or Ian  – before it approaches the coast on Thursday, Al.com reported, but some Floridians say it is a good time to test their flooding defenses and pumps, as Louisiana's fierce August weather proved the need for preparation. 

“If we get a storm event that blows through and dumps five inches of rain in an hour on us, we’re gonna have some flooding in the city, but these pumps will move it out faster,” Miami Beach Public Works Director Eric Carpenter told 7 News Miami. “We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.”

In the North Banks of North Carolina, officials issued warnings of wind and flooding, and local news urged residents not to underestimate the potential for a heavy storm.

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Warnings of heavy wind and rain have emptied out some of its touristy beaches, with only the most determined remaining.

“We’re not worried about the storm so much unless they say there’s something to worry about,” said Joe Walker of Markham, Va., who had the beach near Rodanthe to himself, along with his family, as many headed inland, the Associated Press reported. 

The storm threat is still minor, according to the National Hurricane Center, but some exercised abundant caution with past storms in mind. 

“While the current forecast does not appear at this time to be a major threat to North Carolina, we know from experience that the storm track can shift quickly,” Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said in a press release. “Five years ago much of eastern North Carolina was still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Irene. These tropical systems can pack a powerful punch; those who are prepared ahead of time will fare better.”

This report contains material from the Associated Press and Reuters.