Hurricane Florence, now a Category 4, is on track to hit the U.S. East Coast early Thursday.
It will strike with torrential rains, powerful winds and potentially devastating flooding.
The latest projections of Florence, now a Category 4 storm, show it shifting south putting Georgia in its possible path.
The earliest reasonable time that tropical storm force winds could arrive on the East Coast is Thursday morning, and the most likely time is Thursday mid- to late-day.
Cooper, the governor of neighboring North Carolina, ordered an evacuation of the Outer Banks, barrier islands that are a popular tourist destination, and parts of coastal Dare County. "It's going to destroy homes", said Jeff Byard, an official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. "So this is not just going to be a coastal threat". Up to 15-25 inches is expected in many areas where Hurricane Florence hits.
A tropical storm watch was issued for north of the North Carolina-Virginia border to Cape Charles Light, Virginia, and for the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.
Some areas could get deluged with 20 inches of rain, Myers said.
"Florence is going to drop tremendous amount of rain, not as much as [Hurricane] Harvey brought to Texas but there will nearly definitely be flooding", Salna says.
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He said the federal government and first responders are ready to assist, but that 'bad things can happen when you're talking about a storm this size'. And there will be flooding in the inland areas as well.
To hasten evacuations from coastal SC, officials reversed the flow of traffic on some highways so all major roads led away from shore.
Their entire neighbourhood evacuated in Wilmington, North Carolina, David and Janelle Garrigus planned to ride out Florence at their daughter's one-bedroom apartment in Charlotte.
Forecasters said parts of North Carolina could get 20in of rain, if not more, with as much as 10in elsewhere in the state and in Virginia, parts of Maryland and Washington DC.
Since Tuesday, forecasts have shifted the storm track towards the south and southwest after it reaches the coast, which could increase the storm's severity in coastal SC through Myrtle Beach and Charleston and even into parts of Georgia.
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.
The soaked ground and fierce winds could bring down trees and power lines and knock out electricity for weeks.
SC authorities have turned four motorways into one-way routes away from the coast to speed the exodus.