"That's the second story of a house", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday morning.
"In 12 or 18 hours, they may be saying different things all over again", he said. If the storm continues at its current pace, it could be the strongest hurricane to reach the Carolinas in the last 30 years.
Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.
"It doesn't matter how much money you have or how many generators you have if you can't get gas", she said. "Flooding is nearly guaranteed". Additionally, tornadoes could arise in southeast North Carolina on Thursday and Friday.
Forecast models predict Florence's center may slow to a crawl just off North Carolina early Friday and make a southwesterly turn - punishing the coast while moving perhaps only 2 to 3 miles per hour.
Six feet of storm surge could carry large objects like cars underwater and leave lower levels structures submerged in water, according to Dr Postel.
The deadliest hurricanes to hit the USA mainland killed most of their victims with storm surge, including 2005's Katrina, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at Weather Underground.
As the storm - with those winds - nears shallow water along the coast, its forces water inland. Storm surge warnings indicate a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline during the coming 36 hours.
As Florence closed in, some residents weighed whether to ride it out. "Significant river flooding is expected as a result of excessive rainfall across area hydrologic basins".
"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said. "I was in the same house and it stood fine". Its winds could approach Category 5 strength, which means winds of 157mph or higher.
"We're a good community up there".
Ferry service from North Carolina's Bald Head Island already has stopped.
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Georgia's governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for all 159 counties and said the state "is mobilising all available resources to ensure public safety ahead of Hurricane Florence". She packed up what she could and took a ferry.
"Do you want to get hit with a train or do you want to get hit with a cement truck?" said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
There was also concern over crops. The storm was about 275km east of Wilmington, North Carolina. South Carolina's state capital Columbia is at only 89m (292ft).
The contraflow will end Thursday at noon on 501 and at 6 p.m. on I-26.
"This is no ordinary storm, and people could be without power for a very long time - not days but weeks", a president of one energy company in North Carolina said on Wednesday.
Airlines have cancelled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns across the Carolinas are largely empty after 1.7 million people in three states were told to clear out.
Photos of the beaches in North and SC show how serious it's going to be.
In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate, including from the Eastern Shore.
The News & Observer reports that the storm's path shifted early Wednesday and it is now bearing down on southern North Carolina and northern SC, where it could dump up to 40 inches of rain in places.
Early on Wednesday, astronaut Alexander Gerst captured this absolutely stunning image of Florence's eye from the International Space Station, some 250 miles above Earth.
"Get out of its way, don't play games with it, it's a big one, maybe as big as they've seen", Trump said.