The storm's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 120 miles per hour (193 km per hour), down from a peak of 140 mph a day earlier before Florence was downgraded from a Category 4.
While one man concluded: 'We are about to get pounded, but since we have absolutely no control over it, all you can do is laugh, and pray for the best'. This would put us in a swath of maybe up to 4-8 inches of rain from Friday night to early Monday evening and could linger beyond that as the remnants cast off to our west. About 1.7 million residents have been urged to flee from parts of North and SC. Usually storms come to the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic from the south - and those usually curve safely out to sea.
Ocean City emergency management officials are continuing to monitor Hurricane Florence, which is now showing a southern track and steering farther away from the Maryland coastline.
Potential threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides. Authorities in Chatham County, Georgia, which borders SC and includes the historic port city of Savannah, urged residents who feel unsafe "to evacuate as they see fit".
Parts of North Carolina are expected to get 13 centimetres of rain in the coming days.
Storms have previously battered North and South Carolina - Hurricane Hugo in 1989 was particularly severe - but storms of Florence's scope, with winds of upwards of 130mph, are rare in this region.
The state has set up the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund at rebuild.nc.gov to accept hurricane relief donations, Cooper said. But one thing it might actually help is to reduce the overall wind speed, though we're still going to have gusty winds around here which combined with that wet soil could bring down some trees. Yesterday officials in Beaufort County, home to Hilton Head Island, held a news conference and urged people to leave voluntarily.
"It's going to be bad", said Woody White, a county commissioner.