With gusts upward of 110 miles per hour already battering the Carolina coastline, storm surges have already started to destroy homes and overflow onto roads.
The hurricane's surge could cover large swathes of the Carolina coast under as much as 11ft (3.3m) of seawater. Most city and county offices in coastal SC were closed by Wednesday, with emergency services still in place.
"We are on the wrong side of this storm, where most of the damage is done", North Carolina Gov.
At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Governor Cooper said, with more facilities being opened. That created some confusion and, officials feared, complacency.
"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said. "I find it amusing that the storm of hysteria is bigger than the storm itself".
In addition, hurricane-strength winds are predicted to batter everything in the storm's path. Wind, on the other hand, is only responsible for 8% of all deaths.
Nag's Head is located in North Carolina's Outer Banks region, which has been forecast to get slammed by Florence when it hits the state on the morning of September 14. Don't relax; don't get complacent. "Today the threat becomes a reality".
That's why Hurricane Florence is still an incredibly risky storm - it will contain extreme amounts of water, both coming up from the ocean in storm surge, and falling from the sky in heavy rain bands.
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Centre said the storm would weaken after making landfall but also linger, dumping heavy rains for days.
But the storm still carried "very risky winds", the Center added.
A hurricane can kill you in a lot of different ways.
Harvey, the police chief, remembered the wind of Hurricane Arthur.
The hurricane center said the large amount of rainfall "will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding". He warned residents to be prepared to be without electricity "for a long time" in the storm's aftermath.
"This is a very risky storm", Long said. "We call them disasters because they break things".
"This is going to be a bad, bad situation".
Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out. The vivid presentation - powered by the Unreal Engine, most commonly used in video games - seems likely to serve as a more pressing demonstration of the storm's threat than a mere written warning, and that's vitally important for folks in impacted areas.
As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad. "You rock! We couldn't have done it without you!" the city tweeted on Saturday.
Despite reassurances from FEMA and Trump, Florence's fluctuations and course-change predictions have added to the difficulties of preparing for such a massive storm.
Virginia and Georgia are also under states of emergency, but it's North and SC that are positioned to suffer the worst of the storm's wrath.
The next day, he rescinded the order when it appeared the storm was shifting north.
Overall, Young says that evacuees from the coast who have fled to the mountains made the right choice.
"Unfortunately, when storms hit is during our fall season", he said.
"It makes me feel anxious". One moment, it's going to be real bad; next moment, it's slowing down.
More than 421,000 South Carolinians already have evacuated from the coast, McMaster said.
Meanwhile, lane reversals on USA 501 in the Grand Strand ended at noon Thursday and reversals on I-26 ended Thursday night, allowing state police and transportation workers to get to safety before the storm hits. Young explains that a storm surge is the excess water brought into the shore by the hurricane. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they're seeing the floodwaters rise".
"I find it very unfortunate that the consensus track (where they draw the middle of the cone) goes through through Cullowhee". They've also been praying, singing songs in their native language.
It said the additional declaration would bring more federal help with debris removal, search and rescue teams, meals and generators, among other items. "It's a getaway to not think about the hurricane".
Late Thursday afternoon near the Dockside Restaurant, just across the Intracoastal Waterway from Wrightsville Beach, a group of about a dozen local homeowners stood under a pergola amid sheets of rain.