"When you are looking at a storm surge of this magnitude, where the National Weather Service says that the damage is going to be unbelievable and that they can not emphasize that enough, we know that that is a message that we should listen to", said Cooper.
Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights. Its forward movement slowed to 12 miles per hour (19 kph) and top sustained winds stayed at 110 miles per hour (175 kph). "Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km)".
Florence's eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
The National Weather Service expects Florence to drop 20 - 30 inches (50 - 76 centimeters) of rain, with some areas receiving up to 40 inches (100 centimeters), and called the expected deluge "hard to comprehend".
The police chief of a barrier island in the bull's-eye of Hurricane Florence is warning any stragglers who refused to evacuate that they are making a unsafe choice. Meacham says the state can house more than 35,000 people if needed. Don't get complacent. Stay on guard. "Several million will probably lose power". "Today the threat becomes a reality".
According to meteorologists, Florence could be quite deadly-and with climate change making hurricanes more common and more catastrophic, there are going to be a lot more storms like Florence.
Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds on Thursday.
Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out. "If I can't get back in a week, after a while they might turn on each other or trash the place".
Duke Energy said Florence could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.
Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday at 100 miles per hour (170 km per hour) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 mph (224 kph) earlier this week when it was classified a Category 4 storm.