The NHC said Florence is expected to be an "extremely unsafe major hurricane" when it makes landfall in the Carolinas late Thursday or early Friday, bringing life-threatening storm surge to coastal areas.
The storm's maximum sustained winds were clocked at 175kmph late on Wednesday, down from a peak of 225kmph a day earlier, before it was downgraded to a Category 3 and then a Category 2. "Everybody is trying to get out of the coast", she said.
"Storms like that don't usually make it that far west". "It's the most deadly part of the hurricane that comes in - it causes the most amount of destruction". "So I don't really want to take no chances on it".
One of them, Kermit, recently flew through Hurricane Florence - and it captured some rather incredible footage in the process.
"We have a duty to everybody here in the city and we take that very seriously", Vest said.
Wake County schools are closed Thursday and Friday along with numerous other schools in North Carolina.
Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as merely a Category 1 hurricane with winds less than 100 miles per hour (160 kph), but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage.
The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".
The storm's winds may have weakened in recent days - they are now at 110mph (175km/h) - but there are fears Florence's slow-moving nature could bring different problems.
SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination.
"The power will be off for weeks", Long said.
Another joker said: 'Looks like tropical storm Floyd has penetrated Florence, we will be having a baby shower for the little sprinkle that's due in 9 months'.
2 a.m.: At 2 a.m., The National Hurricane Center said Florence was moving northwest at 17 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour. Right now the storm does not have a lot of speed behind it, so the rainfall will likely be extensive along the coastal areas, with historic flooding predicted there.
Although Governor Henry McMaster lifted the evacuation order for three counties, including Jasper where the facility Ridgeland is located, these counties are still deemed evacuation zones by South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
"We are not in a flood plain and because it's not coming directly at us so I think we're going to be OK", she said. The Navy, Air Force and Army have been moving people, ships and aircrafts out of harm's way, though evacuations were not mandatory at bases such as Camp Lejeune.