President Donald Trump - who was criticised for his response to the deadly Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago -has said the White House is "absolutely, totally prepared" to provide aid once Florence hits. "T$3 his is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you".
Florence is moving over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas today, and is expected to approach the coast of North Carolina or SC in the hurricane warning area on Friday.
President Trump on Wednesday said that as Hurricane Florence makes its way toward the US, "protection of life is the absolute highest priority".
Hurricane Florence, growing in size despite its weakening winds, churned ever closer to the US East Coast on Wednesday as evacuations expanded south from the Carolinas into Georgia to counter the threat of deadly high seas and calamitous floods.
While Hurricane Florence has been downgraded, millions of people in and around South and North Carolina are still on alert.
Trump told residents: 'Don't play games with it.
Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for the state of Georgia: "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".
The firm's prediction for Florence, which is packing 130-mile-per-hour winds, is that it will now move more slowly, reaching land sometime on Saturday as cooler water temperatures delay its progress westward.
More than 10 million people were under storm watches and warnings on Wednesday as Hurricane Florence - described as "the storm of a lifetime" - continued to drive its way to the East Coast.
"This is not going to be a glancing blow", warned Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
One simply added: 'Your Florence hurricane forecast looks like a giant penis and testicles.
Since Tuesday, forecasts have shifted the storm track towards the south and southwest after it reaches the coast, which could increase the storm's severity in coastal SC through Myrtle Beach and Charleston and even into parts of Georgia.
Utility officials have warned that widespread power outages are likely and that it could take weeks to restore electricity.
The overall trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".
In a trailer park outside Wilmington, Alondra Espinoza was preparing to leave with her two young children.
"Be prepared for the inland effects of the storm as well as the ensuing storm surge in coastal areas", Mr Deal said in a statement.
Though sheltering in place with vulnerable patients is necessary for many facilities, more lean toward evacuation ― in part because of lessons learned in previous disasters.