However, her agency was prepared to assist neighboring SC and North Carolina, which are in the landfall bullseye for Category 4 Hurricane Florence, according to some computer models. "Even if you've ridden out storms before, this one is different".
Florence is predicted to make landfall tomorrow, with states of emergency in effect in North and SC and Virginia.
The eastbound lanes of several major highways have been shut down to allow traffic to flow inland, but the exodus was slow along roads jammed with outward-bound vehicles.
The National Hurricane Center's projected track had Florence hovering off the southern North Carolina coast from Thursday night (Friday NZT) until landfall Saturday morning (Sunday NZT) or so, about a day later than previously expected.
As of 8am EST today, it was 530 miles from Cape Fear.
"They haven't seen anything like what's coming at us in 25-30 years, maybe ever", President Trump said while appearing with FEMA officials in the Oval Office on Tuesday. "We'll handle it. We're ready, we're able".
That same section of coastline and locations to the south near Myrtle Beach will also likely experience a prolonged period of destructive winds resulting in power outages that could last for days or weeks.
Byard, the FEMA official, said "this storm is not going to be a glancing blow".
While a third added: 'Looks like a hard pounding... they are really going more than a few inches. Find out now if you live in a flood prone area or a location that will be greatly impacted by storm surge.
North Florida is still outside the cone of forecast tracks for the center of the storm, but the size of Florence means impacts will extend to a large area of the Southeast.
Michael Kennedy, an engineer at Boeing, said he planned to leave for his parents' home in Atlanta, Georgia.
Beth Burgess, director of Emergency Management for Athens-Clarke County, said her main concern was for the safety and well being of local residents.
Walking his dog along empty streets, Belli said he's well stocked with food and water.
"I will enjoy the quiet", he said. Schools in 26 of the state's 46 counties were ordered closed.
It urged residents to heed evacuation orders.
The category four hurricane is set to bring with it heavy rains and winds of up to 225 kilometres per hour.
The Virginia National Guard is planning to initially bring up to 1,500 soldiers and airmen to offer help in the state's response operations.
Rather than pushing up toward western Virginia, the storm's center is now predicted to move across the middle of SC.
Florence is being trailed in the Atlantic by two other storms - Hurricane Helene and Tropical Storm Isaac.