More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia. "During harvest, time is of the essence", Governor Roy Cooper said in announcing a state of emergency.
"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the hurricane center says.
Updated NHC forecasts showed the storm lingering near the coast of the Carolinas, carrying days of heavy rains that could bring intense inland flooding from SC to Virginia. But the change was probably temporary and didn't do anything to lessen the danger, said Jeff Byard, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
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. "It wants to get stronger", he said of the storm.
Now located around 530miles southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, Florence is expected to make land on Thursday or Friday this week.
Streets were quiet with schools and many offices and businesses closed. "If they're telling you to leave, you have to leave", Graham said.
But his partner, Emily Whisler, said she will remain behind at the university where she is a resident in the psychiatry program. "I'll be living there for a few days".
Dr Myers continued: "Following inland flooding and coastal damage, winds, on average, are often the next biggest cause of hurricane damage and economic costs".More news: More protesters disrupt Kavanaugh confirmation hearing
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Another commenter said: 'That hurricane better be taking me to dinner first'.
Brunswick County also opened its own shelters at three high schools on Tuesday.
North Carolina is the country's leading producer of tobacco, second-biggest producer of hogs and a major poultry producer.
"This means the east and southeast winds on the east side of the storm are going to be most effective in driving storm surge flooding as the wind and waves pound the coast".
More than 20 inches (51 cm) of rainfall are possible across eastern North Carolina, said Don Keeney, senior agricultural meteorologist for weather forecaster Radiant Solutions.
German astronaut Alexander Gerst posted photos of the massive hurricane, which is now a category four storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, online from space.
Fort AP Hill and Fort Bragg were selected as FEMA Incident Support and Federal Staging Area to assist in the response, the army said.
Abigail Darlington, covers the city of Charleston for the South Carolina Post and Courier. In fact, no tropical storm or hurricane in recorded history has passed within 100 miles of Florence's location last Friday and still made a United States landfall.