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.
The governor of Georgia has declared a state of emergency after forecasts showed Hurricane Florence possibly taking a south-west turn.
"I can't emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm".
The federal government is warning Canadians to avoid all travel to a stretch of the U.S. East Coast that is expected to be hammered by hurricane Florence.
The storm was heading for the coast of North and SC but heavy rain was also expected in Virginia to the north and Georgia to the south.
Wilmington, North Carolina, just north of where the hurricane is expected to come ashore, was sunny around midday on Wednesday as the town appeared to be emptying.
"We are uniquely positioned to establish a quick ad-hoc supply chain to support relief efforts", said Bettina Stix, an Amazon veteran credited with developing DRbA.
Kevin Miller, a 50-year-old electrician, said he planned to ride out the storm at his home near Charleston.
Duke Energy, the nation's No. 2 power company, said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.
Though Florence won't be making landfall until Friday, tropical-storm-force winds - 39 to 73 miles per hour (63 to 117 km/h) - will begin whipping through coastal regions as early as tomorrow, making it exceptionally risky to be outside, Graham said.
Another joker said: 'Looks like tropical storm Floyd has penetrated Florence, we will be having a baby shower for the little sprinkle that's due in 9 months'. "Now it might be time for the exam", he said. "I want to get them as far away as possible".
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.
Its governor, Roy Cooper, told residents "the time to prepare was nearly over".
"This is a real hurricane that we have coming and our goal is to protect lives and property", said Steve Goldstein, NOAA liaison to FEMA. "If you are on the coast, there is still time to get out safely". About 1.7 million residents have been urged to flee from parts of North and SC.
Florence is being trailed in the Atlantic by two other storms - Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac.