CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WECT) - It's a mad dash.
With the grim news that our area could receive a direct hit from Hurricane Florence, coastal communities are feverishly racing against the clock to protect their homes, businesses and lives.
"I just put the plywood up, make sure I am gonna cover all the windows in case anything happens to hit it," said Phillip Thompson, owner of the Kupboard Grocery. "I'm more worried about debris coming off of somewhere and smashing the window and water come pouring in."
Thompson, who has lived on Pleasure Island since the 1970s, says he has been through dozens of hurricanes and tropical storms, which is why he started his preparations early.
"I know it's coming and it could be at least a Category 3," Thompson said of Florence. "I am praying for the best."
Many beach houses normally crawling with vacationers sat boarded up Monday. Plywood and sandbags were visible at many beachfront homes.
"A direct hit would be devastating," Donald Walker said. "I have to protect my property."
Walker has owned his home on Carolina Beach since 1996 and like Thompson, he is no stranger to hurricanes. The plywood all over his windows contain messages like "Go away Dennis; Stay away Matthew," and commands for other named storms.
"I'm not really concerned about destruction," Walker said. "Just concerned of inconvenience. it puts on everyone around here. Like (Hurricane) Fran, it took me two weeks to get back in house and still no electricity.
"You choose to live in paradise and my family is aware of this. It is stressful but we have confidence we will get through it."
Driving across the bridge to Carolina Beach, other preparations were underway.
Large billboards were taken down and messages of hope were on church marquees, like "Pray!" at the First Baptist Church.