"These are folks who chose to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.
On Wednesday morning, the storm was about 550 miles from the Carolina coast and remains a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds.
North and SC and Virginia ordered mass evacuations along the coast.
Florence is forecast to dump up to three feet (almost a meter) of rain in some areas.
Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds. Life-threatening storms are expected across large portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states.
Authorities, including President Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are urging residents in the Carolinas as well as parts of Virginia and Georgia to evacuate as the storm continues its path.
At 5 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Florence was 575 miles east of Cape Fear, N.C., moving west-northwest at 17 mph.
Forecasters said Florence's eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
To hasten evacuations from coastal SC, officials switched traffic patterns so that all major roads led away from shore. The storm's forecast has shifted southward in the last 24 hours.
"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74. "Now's the time to prepare".
Trojniar said she and her husband were packing up belongings and planned to stack sandbags around their single-floor home in Wilmington's Landfall neighborhood near the ocean before checking into a hotel to ride out the storm.
Video taken in several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through thigh-high water.
"Hugo was a direct hit", he said. "I've got four cats inside the house. We have everything. We're ready".
"This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast", he warned. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Governor Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.
"Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you".
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while neighboring North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County. The only exception was Edisto Beach - that and other areas to the north remain under evacuation orders.
Axios: "The ties between Hurricane Florence and climate change" - "Hurricane Florence is a unique Atlantic hurricane, projected to stall out after hitting land and forecast to dump upwards of 2 feet of rain on several states, much like Hurricane Harvey did in Texas previous year".
The NHC said Helene was weakening, however, and posed no danger to land. Tropical Storm Isaac is heading westward toward the central Lesser Antilles, but is a bit weaker, with Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica now under tropical storm, not hurricane, warnings.