"This storm will bring destruction", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. We have steps on the sides of the house so it's a few feet off the ground anyway.
Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath. Authorities have advised people, however, to move to higher levels in their homes while they wait to be rescued.
Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and unsafe.
Close to 165,000 residents in North Carolina are now without power as Hurricane Florence wind's cause havoc.
FEMA officials wrote on Twitter people should not focus on the category of the storm - as of Thursday morning, Hurricane Florence was a Category 2 storm, indicating slower wind speeds - but rather should pay attention to the fact there will be extreme flooding in the Carolinas as a result.
Wake County is not yet under a tornado watch, but it will remain under a flash flood watch until 8 p.m. Sunday and a tropical storm warning until further notice.
Strom surge that was projected between nine and twelve feet in Pamlico Sound and the Pamlico and Neuse rivers was expected to cause a "tremendous amount of inland flooding", said Neil Jacobs, assistant secretary at the Commerce Department over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
So far, a state of emergency has been declared in five states - South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland and Washington DC.
One concerning issue, he said, is whether persistent rain and high wind will preclude search and rescue helicopters from being able to operate "in the hours immediately after the storm hits".
"All evacuation orders from local officials should be followed because of this unsafe threat", the Weather Channel said. However, the military is much better geographically positioned to handle Florence relief, according to Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, which will oversee operations.
The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who made a decision to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information. "We are totally prepared", Trump said at the White House. On Friday, he applauded the efforts of emergency responders.
FEMA's first priority after Florence passes will be getting infrastructure that's critical to communities' well-being up and running, Long said.
Parts of the mid-Atlantic can also expect heavy rains from what is left of Florence well into next week.