According to The Weather Channel, hurricane and storm surge warnings are in effect from the South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, including the Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, including Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, and most of the Outer Banks.
In contrast to the hurricane center's official projection, a highly regarded European model had the storm turning southward off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina line.
The U.S. Coast Guard closed ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina and Hampton Roads, Virginia to inbound vessels greater than 500 tons and was requiring vessels of that size to leave if they did not have permission to be in the ports. Florence was expected to bring very heavy storm surge, rain and flooding to the entire region on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Forecasters said parts of North Carolina could get 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain, if not more, with as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) elsewhere in the state and in Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington, D.C. That funding can not be spent on disaster response, they said.
The Category 4 storm is likely to produce "catastrophic" flooding in the eastern Carolinas, as well as destructive winds.
Jeff Byard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was imperative locals heed the evacuation warnings.
Susan Faulkenberry Panousis has stayed in her Bald Head Island, North Carolina home during prior hurricanes, but not this time.
In the image, Hurricane Helene and Hurricane Isaac can be seen circling the Atlantic Ocean while Storm 95L is on a collision course for the Caribbean.
Hurricane Helene is heading north to open sea off the coast of the USA and now poses no danger to land after the storm hit cooler waters in the Atlantic.
At the White House, President Trump both touted the government's readiness and urged people to get out of the way of Florence.
Trump faced severe criticism for his administration's response to Hurricane Maria previous year in Puerto Rico.
"We're going to stay tight and check on everybody", he said.
Days before its arrival, Florence was already disrupting commercial operations.
North Carolina officials evacuated long-term care facilities and hundreds of prisoners in vulnerable areas, and also closed state parks, museums and other attractions.
Residents prepared by boarding up their homes and stocking up on food, water and other essentials, stripping shop shelves of stock. Many gasoline stations were running low on fuel.
"No one should enter the surf due to life threatening rip currents", said a statement issued Wednesday morning by the weather service. "[It will] just dump feet of rain- we're talking 2 to 3 feet of rain- over parts of North Carolina".
Her home in Hillsborough, North Carolina, is at risk for flooding, and her family and nearby relatives will ride out the storm in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
But his partner, Emily Whisler, said she will remain behind at the university where she is a resident in the psychiatry program.