Hurricane Florence - the most powerful storm to threaten the Carolinas in almost three decades - is expected to strengthen, say forecasters. Sustained winds were 130 miles per hour (215 kph) Tuesday morning, but it remains a Category 4 storm and is expected to approach the most-damaging Category 5 status as it slows and strengthens over very warm ocean water near North and SC.
He later added: "Just had calls with South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam regarding the incoming storm".
On Tuesday evening, the National Hurricane Center issues storm surge warnings for the areas around the Outer Banks in North Carolina and the South Santee River in SC.
Hurricane Hugo, the strongest hurricane ever to impact North Carolina, actually made landfall just north of Charleston, South Carolina in 1989 with 130 miles per hour (209 km/h) winds.
Motorists streamed inland on highways converted to one-way routes yesterday as more than 1 million people in three states were ordered to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a hair-raising storm taking dead aim at the Carolinas with 210 kmh winds and potentially ruinous rains. The last Category 4 hurricane to plow directly into North Carolina was Hazel in 1954, a devastating storm that killed 19 people and destroyed some 15,000 homes.
Watches in effect Tuesday forecast a storm surge of up to 12 feet at high tide from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout in North Carolina.More news: Northam declares state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Florence
Communities in Florence's path could be without electricity for weeks due to downed power lines and flooded equipment, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long said.
Forecasters said the hurricane is not expected to change course in such a way that it will avoid a direct hit on the east coast late Thursday into Friday, threatening ocean surges and flooding from torrential rain inland.
Residents prepared by boarding up their homes and stocking up on food, water and other essentials, stripping many grocery store shelves of merchandise.
Authorities in coastal towns have told residents to pick up sandbags and in North Carolina they are already preparing bulldozers and chain saws in case they are needed in any future clean-up and rescue operations. Some gas stations also ran low on fuel.
Not everyone was in a hurry to leave.
"The water could overtake some of these barrier islands and keep on going".
"We have to be careful we're not asking them to come back to Beaufort County through a storm", he said.