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As Hurricane Florence barrels toward the coast, brands and agencies located near the Category 4 storm's expected path are in prep mode. By midday Wednesday, Florence was moving toward Wilmington, North Carolina, and expected to produce tropical-storm-force winds and torrential flooding on Thursday.

Lowe's has so far closed 15 stores, most of them on the North Carolina coast, according to a company spokeswoman. While the Mooresville, North Carolina-based retailer's corporate headquarters is not in Florence's path, many of its stores and customers are.

The home improvement chain activated its Emergency Command Center over the weekend in preparation for Florence, the spokeswoman says. The Center, staffed by roughly two-dozen employees, monitors the storm and communicates with stores to find out what products customers need for preparation and recovery efforts. Earlier in the week, customers were looking for prep products including bottled water, generators and plywood, but now Lowe's is stocking "recovery" products like bleach, gloves, buckets, storage totes, mops and brooms.

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