After hitting the North Carolina coast, the hurricane will cut down into SC before sweeping into western North Carolina and north from there. The eye of that hurricane merely grazed the coast.
Keith Acre of North Carolina's Department of Emergency Management said: "This has been a really large evacuation and sheltering operation, probably the largest we've done, so that has not been an east lift". Its forward movement was 6 miles per hour. Federal emergency management officials warned that Florence - while weakening slightly - remains a "very risky storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the coast.
"We are now still beyond the three day prediction envelope and the cone of uncertainty that we have of where the storm will go is very big so I'm really hesitant to make any predictions about what it's going to be like here in Western North Carolina", says Young. "Florence will then recurve across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week".
Mr Cooper's office said the current emergency declaration was helping state officials prepare for the storm.
Many people who stay say they want to protect their property from nature and looters. The Outer Banks of North Carolina took the initial brunt Thursday afternoon, with parts of Highway 12 - the main road that runs through Ocracoke and Hatteras islands - flooding and becoming impassable.
"We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now", said Linda Smith, 67, a retired nonprofit director.
Hurricane-force winds extend up to 80 miles from the centre, and tropical storm effects reach 195 miles, The Independent reported.now less than 100 miles from Wilmington, North Carolina, the "meandering" Florence has been described as a "horrific nightmare storm" because meteorologists can not pinpoint where it will strike.
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"These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.
As the Carolinas braced for the storm Thursday, roads and tourist shops were closed, regional flights were canceled and residents who didn't evacuate were working to protect their property against the severe weather ahead. Anyone in an evacuation zone in the Carolinas and Virginia must leave NOW if they haven't yet.
"This is a very risky storm", said FEMA's Long, urging people still in evacuation zones to heed orders to flee to safer ground.
Virginia and Georgia are also under states of emergency, but it's North and SC that are positioned to suffer the worst of the storm's wrath.
Muriel Bowser, the Mayor of the nation's capital, has declared a state of emergency.
Now he anxious not about wind, but water, he said, "and the uncertainty of how much water we're going to get in the town, and what is that going to do for our capabilities, and recovery".
Hurricane-force winds now extend up to 80 miles and tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 195 miles from the center of the storm. "Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the centre of the storm". "Life-threatening storm surge, heavy rainfall, and damaging wind will cover a large area regardless of exactly where the center of Florence moves".
Some of the forecasts called for a storm surge of nine to 16 feet, and Harvey wondered where all of that water would collect. Storm surges can leave courses awash in saltwater, killing grass or covering courses with silt.