A satellite image shows Hurricane Florence looming in the Atlantic Ocean as the sun rises over the U.S. Florence is expected to bring tropical storm conditions to North Carolina and SC on Thursday and hurricane conditions on Friday.
Briefing from the Oval Office, President Donald Trump urged people to heed orders to evacuate, saying "if you are asked to leave, get out".
Almost 1000 prisoners in SC will not be moved from their cells, despite a mandatory evacuation order in the area.
Speaking about the Wilmington area and its surrounding beaches in North Carolina, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official said the inland flooding threat was "extreme".
More than 5.4 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches on the US East Coast, according to the NWS, and another four million people were under a tropical storm watch.
While a man who gave his name as Joe, a contractor from Carolina, admitted he was "scared" but said he had survived storms before and was determined to make it through this one.
The hurricane is expected to make landfall somewhere in the Carolinas early Friday.
The storm is set to bring heavy rains and damaging winds, particularly in areas along the Atlantic coast, and will be the most intense during the overnight hours of September 14.
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On Thursday, Ompong could also reach a peak intensity of 220 km/h in terms of maximum winds and 270 km/h in terms of gustiness. It is now barrelling across the Pacific with gusts of 255km per hour.
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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper had a direct message for residents who decide to stay put.
"We may not even get the worst of it until Saturday", Sharp said.
"The power will be off for weeks", Long said.
At least 25 million residents are at risk from the storm and experts predict its current path could cause up to $170 billion worth of damage, hit up to 759,000 homes and businesses and become the costliest to ever hit the U.S.
North and SC and Virginia declared emergencies earlier in the week. I believe in preparation, ' Wright said.
Police chief Luther Reynolds added that he has been in touch with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office and North Charleston police about the situation and preparing for Hurricane Florence.
"It can save your life", he said.
By Saturday, total rainfall could accumulate to 20 inches (51 centimeters) - or even 30 inches in places - in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia, the NHC said.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, concerned the storm would bring its devastation south, issued an emergency declaration for all 159 counties in his state. The Virginia National Guard is planning to initially bring up to 1,500 soldiers and airmen to offer help in the state's response operations. At this height of the Atlantic hurricane season, Florence was being trailed on east-to-west paths by two other storms, Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac, but neither packs the deadly punch of Florence.