Many, however, weren't taking any chances.
"The biggest thing is you're always anxious about yourself and friends and family - and whether they'll have a place to come back to", he said.
Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the USA electricity sector has been well prepared for Florence even as hundreds of thousands of homes lose power in the storm. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster", he said.
In other words, this hurricane will basically stall - pounding the same parts of the Carolinas over and over again.
Florence could strengthen some over open water and then weaken as it nears land, but the difference won't make it any less unsafe, forecaster Stacy Stewart wrote in a National Hurricane Center discussion. Rain will continue through Sunday, dumping feet of water over a wide area.
"And that's saying a lot given the impacts we've seen from Hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd and Matthew".
Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said the huge change in the storm's track will make a big difference in the impact felt in western North Carolina in the coming days and early next week.
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President Donald Trump is preparing to travel to areas affected by Florence next week.
All three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast.
Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for the state of Georgia: "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall". "So Florence is kind of spreading out, becoming a much larger, more stable hurricane".
As of 2 p.m., the storm was centered 435 miles (700 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving at 16 mph (26 kph). "Better safe than sorry". "Everyone was sold out", she said.
People weren't the only ones evacuating to get out of the path of Hurricane Florence. If you have any preparations to make, make sure you get them done today.
Since Tuesday, forecasts have shifted the storm track towards the south and southwest after it reaches the coast, which could increase the storm's severity in coastal SC through Myrtle Beach and Charleston and even into parts of Georgia.
Officials are asking residents to only call 911 for emergencies.
This same area will also likely experience a prolonged period of destructive winds resulting in power outages that could last for days or weeks. It's going to destroy infrastructure. North Carolina alone could get from 20 to 30 inches, with isolated spots possibly receiving 40 inches.
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With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand. We know how to manage expectations.
An additional 25 percent of deaths are related to rain, he said. It could be one of the most intense hurricanes to strike the Southeast in at least two decades.
As the day progresses we'll see partly cloudy skies with a slight chance for a shower or storm.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned that "disaster is at the doorstep", and "tens of thousands" of buildings may be flooded. Her 88-year-old mother refused to evacuate and will stay with her.
"It's been really nice", Nicole Roland said.
Florence is the most risky of three tropical systems in the Atlantic. It's a horrifying spectacle to behold, and the hurricane hasn't even struck land yet.
Although Florence is tracking well south of Hampton Roads, Historic Triangle residents should be prepared for flooding and possibly downed trees, forecasters said.
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