In contrast to the hurricane centre's official projection, a highly regarded European model had the storm turning southward off the North Carolina coast and coming ashore near the Georgia-South Carolina line.
"Our goal is to get as many people out of the immediate threatened area to an area that these patients may need to get a better high level of care, where they're not going to be able to get it there, in case of a power failure or something of that nature", Vallejo said.
The impact of Florence will be widespread, with destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, risky surf, torrential rainfall, flooding and the potential for tornadoes.
Sweet said he thinks Hurricane Florence could cause the US economy's growth to slow a few tenths of a percentage point, on an annual basis, in the July-September quarter.
The National Weather Service is predicting "excessive" rainfall totals, potentially up to 40 inches in isolated areas, as Florence comes to crawl off the coast of the Carolinas before making landfall somewhere near the border of the two states. Cloud cover that could encompass multiple states. The more it stalls, the more it rains.
When will it make landfall?
The S.C. National Guard has mobilized 1,600 soldiers and airmen to respond to the hurricane.
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Florence is headed straight for some of the most well-known military bases in the country.
By hovering over the warm water in the Atlantic Ocean, the storm is being nourished. The forecast "cone of uncertainty" shows that Florence might severely affect the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee by Monday. But it could have been worse: Labor Day marked the end of the peak tourism season in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and other coastal getaways. It is rated as a Category 2 storm on a scale of 1 to 5 and is expected to maintain its strength.
Florence could threaten the largest rainfall event in USA history, Hurricane Harvey, the 2017 whirlwind that settled over Texas and dropped more than 60 inches of rain, turning roadways into rivers, destroying homes and buildings and killing almost 90 people.
Their entire neighborhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. He says: "If Mama and Grandma are going, then a lot of people are leaving". The agency is in constant contact with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
Besides threatening destruction to the Carolinas, Florence also poses political risk to Trump, who sought to encourage the nation in a series of tweets and statements while shifting blame to local officials.
Utility crews worked to restore electricity. North Carolina's Duplin and Sampson counties, just inland, sell more hogs and pigs than anywhere else in America. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle. But rail cars with vehicles bound for Charleston and export markets overseas have been moved to secure areas until the storm passes.
Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland have declared states of emergency.