According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) in its 8 a.m. update on September 13, the storm has 110 mph winds is located 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and around 220 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and the rain and storm surge will make Florence extremely risky.
Forecasters said conditions will deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.
So far, a state of emergency has been declared in five states - South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland and Washington DC.
About 10 million people live in the path of the slow-moving storm and more than 1 million had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia, jamming westbound roads and highways for miles.
Hurricane Florence weakened from a Category 4 down to a Category 2 storm Wednesday night but the massive system is still considered extremely unsafe and life threatening. Other residents have told CNN they're not evacuating because emergency shelters won't accept pets. The hurricane center also adjusted its projected track, but kept it north of what most computer models were showing, to provide some continuity with past forecasts.
But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".
Airlines announced that change fees would be waived for travellers affected by the storm and in need of rebooking flights or postponing their travel until after the storm passes.
The Category 1 storm's outer bands lashed towns on the barrier islands and on some of the Tar Heel State's rivers, as the center of the cyclone moved to make a probable Friday landfall.
"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said.
North Carolina has roughly 2,100 industrial-scale pork farms containing more than 9 million hogs.
As North Carolina residents began to feel the first modest effects of a weakened Hurricane Florence on Thursday, forecasters warned the powerful storm will bring seawater surging onto land and torrential downpours.
Five percent of gas stations in North Carolina were out of gas (one in 10 gas stations in Wilmington and Raleigh-Durham), while 2.1 percent in SC and 1 percent in Virginia were out. Hurricane Helene and Subtropical Storm Joyce were off in the Atlantic, posing no threat.
Her neighbors gave her the key to their house, which is two stories and might be safer from flooding, she said.
He warned residents to be prepared for mass power outages that could last for days or weeks, echoing the sentiments shared by Duke Energy on Wednesday. Florence's center will approach the North and SC coasts late Thursday and Friday.
Anxious about how the government will respond to Hurricane Florence's devastation? "It is imperative that everyone follow local evacuation orders".
A view of Hurricane Florence is shown churning in the Atlantic Ocean in a west, north-westerly direction heading for the eastern coastline of the United States.
In New Bern, rescue crews saved pulled hundreds of people from flooded homes and still needed to rescue dozens more on Saturday.
"I said, 'Why get on the road like this?"
"But I'm staying", she said. "This evolution will produce storm surges similar to that of a more intense, but smaller, hurricane, and thus the storm surge values seen in the previous advisory are still valid".