Officials can't overstate the potential danger the storm could bring, with the National Weather Service recently saying Florence will likely be the "storm of a lifetime" for the Carolina coast.
The Category 4 storm was expected to start hitting the North and SC coasts sometime Thursday or Friday, and should make landfall near Wilmington, N.C., early Saturday morning, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.
"In Florida, we are fortunate to have the best emergency management professionals in the world to respond to disasters in our state and to help other states during times of emergency", Scott said in a statement.
"Get out of its way, don't play games with it, it's a big one, maybe as big as they've seen", Trump said.
"This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding", the NHC said.
North Carolina resident Roberto Guzman carries belongings from his mobile home as he leaves Wilmington a day before the storm is due to strike. "This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast". There are concerns that it could knock out power for weeks.
The storm's maximum sustained winds were clocked on Wednesday at 115 miles per hour (185 km per hour), down from a peak of 140 mph a day earlier before Florence was downgraded from a Category 4 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of wind strength.
Officials say Hurricane Florence is likely to make landfall in southeastern North Carolina near the SC border.
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Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency "in light of the storm's forecasted southward track after making landfall".
Hurricane Florence, growing in size despite its weakening winds, churned ever closer to the US East Coast on Wednesday as evacuations expanded south from the Carolinas into Georgia to counter the threat of deadly high seas and calamitous floods. In Virginia, officials have evacuated one state prison, though local jails in the affected area are planning to keep inmates in place after stockpiling food and fuel, the Virginian-Pilot reports.
The European Model projects that Florence will track a bit further south, bringing more severe weather to SC.
The eastbound lanes of several major highways have been shut to allow traffic to flow inland, but the exodus was slow along roads jammed with outward-bound vehicles.
In Columbia, South Carolina, Barry Sparks, a 66-year-old retiree, was thinking of getting out after the path of the storm shifted to the south.
"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said. Amazon is already preparing to do what it can for those in the storm's path. "If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have minded staying here".
"The time to prepare is nearly over", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a morning news conference.
"This is a real hurricane that we have coming and our goal is to protect lives and property", said Steve Goldstein, NOAA liaison to FEMA.