Dealers are parking cars in service bays for refuge.
The storm is expected to hit the Carolinas hard later this week.
People in areas vulnerable to a unsafe hurricane have left or are fleeing ahead of the storm's expected Friday or Saturday landfall. Industries like tourism and agriculture will likely suffer, and the losses won't be easily or quickly overcome.
Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less risky, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion. Flooding could prove devastating.
The slow-moving storm could dump between 20 and 30 inches of rain in the Carolinas after making landfall, according to a report on Wednesday by risk modeler AIR Worldwide.
It could have been worse.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student paper, The Daily Tar Heel, reported that class has been canceled and students have been encouraged to leave the Chapel Hill area before the storm hits. There are now fewer tourists to send away.
"Disaster is at the doorstep and is coming in".
"The ironic thing is, when there's a rebuilding effort, that can energize local economies", Walden said.
"Forecasts generally project the storm to make landfall between northern SC and North Carolina's Outer Banks as a strong Category 3 on Thursday, although shifts in the track are possible and storm impacts will expand great distances beyond where landfall occurs". Hiring is likely to be especially strong in construction and at retailers that sell building materials and supplies. "People who live in New Bern have experienced hurricanes before, but it has been a long time since we have experienced something like this". Combined, North and SC boast an economy bigger than Saudi Arabia's.
The slow movement, combined with the massive amount of moisture this storm holds, will bring unsafe rains - from 20 to 30 inches in coastal North Carolina and 40 inches possible in isolated areas, the weather service says.
Deal cited the storm's "forecasted southward track" in a statement declaring a state of emergency.
"Plan to be without power for days", Cooper said.
Florence is now heading for ocean water that has surface temperatures of about 85 degrees, meaning it will most likely strengthen on its way to the East Coast.
Analysts expect a temporary boost in gasoline demand as people flee Florence, followed by weaker demand during and immediately after the storm.
Abigail Darlington, covers the city of Charleston for the South Carolina Post and Courier.
"Heed those warnings and evacuate if you're in one of the zones".
A storm covering enormous area, to drench and lash more people.
"If I need to evacuate I can go to my son's house", Sparks said as he carted a load of water bottles to his vehicle. It also could cut September auto sales by about 110,000 vehicles, which would have to be made up later, he wrote. "So Florence is kind of spreading out, becoming a much larger, more stable hurricane". Though about 9 million vehicles are in Florence's path, the area has only about 162 vehicles per square mile - less than half the figure in car-crazy Houston.
"Don't play games with it".
"There's still uncertainty on exactly how inland the hurricane does penetrate". Workers at Florence Toyota in Florence, South Carolina, plan to pull high-value luxury vehicles into the service bays on Thursday to protect them.
Hurricane Florence churned across the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday packing winds of 130 miles per hour (215 kph) as an emergency management official warned the monster storm would deliver a "Mike Tyson punch" to the Carolina coast. And there will be flooding in the inland areas as well.