Florence exploded into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane Monday as it closed in on North and SC, carrying winds up to 140 miles per hour (220 kph) and water that could wreak havoc over a wide stretch of the eastern United States later this week.
Hurricane Florence has increased in severity over the weekend with images taken by astronaut Ricky Arnold from onboard the global space station, capturing the storm gaining strength in the Atlantic on Monday.
Many newcomers have moved to the coast in the almost 19 years since the last strong hurricane - Floyd - threatened the area. "With time, the wind pushes the water into every nook and cranny you can think of", Graham said. And heavy rains could cause flooding inland for days after landfall.
"It's going to be inconvenience but we don't want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane", South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday. Further south, from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, to Cape Fear could see 4 to 6 feet of surge and further north, from Cape Lookout to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, could see 5 to 8 feet of storm surge.
Starting then, all roads on I-26 and Route 501 will be directed away from the coast, he said.
Families should prepare their emergency kits (keep scrolling for a list of items to put in them) and determine what they will do in case of a necessary evacuation. He estimated that about one million people will be affected by order, including residents and visitors.
Residents along the coast boarded up their homes, formed long lines at gas stations and emptied the shelves of hardware stores and supermarkets this week as they prepared for Florence's arrival.
Florence was upgraded to a Category 4 storm just after 12 p.m. Monday, as the rapidly strengthening storm moved westward through the Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center. He said that the hurricane could only be captured on a super-wide lens, even from 400 kilometres up.
For many people, the challenge could be finding a safe refuge.
Similar scenes were repeated up and down the US East Coast, from Virginia to Savannah, Georgia.
"This storm is strong and it's getting stronger", Cooper said.
The vehicle park has been full for three days at the Ace Hardware store in coastal Calabash, North Carolina, where manager Tom Roberts said he sold 150 gas cans in two hours Monday, along with generators, plywood, rope, manual can openers, sand bags and a plethora of other items. That is still a risky, category 4 intensity.
The office of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam predicted "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages".
Wall Street was sniffing out companies that could gain or lose at the storm's hands. Trees can be snapped or uprooted.
More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power Friday morning according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.
Cooper said he declared the State of Emergency and waived transportation rules to help farmers harvest and transport their crops more quickly.
At noon Monday, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for North Carolina's Hatteras Island.
State agencies will reverse traffic on USA 278 and US 21 in Beaufort County if conditions warrant, McMaster's office said.
Coastal areas of North Carolina began evacuating on Monday, with a second wave at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
"We got our football team to SC and the hurricane had just come through", Hamrick said.
The state has issued mandatory evacuations.
"Action today can avoid losses due to Florence", he said. Forecasters also were tracking two other disturbances.
"We're doing a lot of planning today countywide", Hanes said Monday.
Hurricane Isaac - which late on Sunday became the fifth hurricane of the season - is heading west towards the Caribbean.