Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday at 100 miles per hour (170 km per hour) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 mph (224 kph) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm.
The outer bands of Hurricane Florence have begun to impact the coast of North Carolina. The storm crossed the Gulf Stream on Thursday and slowed dramatically, to just 5 miles per hour, as it approached land.
"Go ahead and go - even those who are season-veterans that weathered other storms in the past", Knight said.
St. Joseph's/Candler had agreed to take 10 patients from Hilton Head Hospital, but didn't need to after the evacuation order was lifted for those three counties, spokesman Scott Larson wrote in an email. That would put this in as one of the highest rain events in Charlotte's history. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).
The police chief of a barrier island in Florence's bulls'-eye said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave.
Although Florence has been downgraded from a category four to a category two storm, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".
Flooding risks are also causing worries over the more than 300 wild horses living on North Carolina's coasts.
"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", Smith said.
Winds and waves began battering the Carolinas on Thursday as officials warned that Hurricane Florence - while weakening slightly - remains a "very risky storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the US East Coast. In some counties, almost 1 in 3 people live below the poverty line.
With forecasters anxious about a repeat of Hurricane Harvey, which inundated Houston with floodwater a year ago, NHC Director Ken Graham explained to the Associated Press: "It truly is really about the whole size of this storm". Residents are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew and communities with financial struggles are slow to rebuild after a major disaster.
But even so, Floyd dumped two feet of rain on North Carolina. The company said as many as three-fourths of its 4 million customers in North Carolina and SC could lose power.
"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said. "This is low tide, and it looks like high tide", she said.
Over 1,400 flights have been cancelled, according to FlightAware.com, as most of the coastal region's airports are closed to ride out the storm.
Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.
Despite the surge, a storm surge warning has been discontinued north of Duck in North Carolina.
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.