He warned residents to take precautions "because once this storm is upon us, we're not going to be able to send emergency personnel out to rescue you". "This is a storm that is historic, maybe once in a lifetime".
The North and SC coasts are on high alert as residents brace for Hurricane Florence's brutal lashing.
With winds of 125 mph and a span of hundreds of miles, Hurricane Florence is already one of the largest and strongest hurricanes ever to threaten the East Coast. The storm is moving west-northwest at 17 mph and is 785 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
Briefing from the Oval Office, President Donald Trump urged people to heed orders to evacuate, saying "if you are asked to leave, get out".
The storm's surge, the rise in sea water above normally dry land at the coast, could reach up to 13 feet at peak.
Speaking in the Oval Office alongside Trump, FEMA administrator Brock Long said Florence may be a "very devastating storm".
"This storm is going to knock out power days into weeks". Unsure of what they would find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle.
WCNC-TV meteorologist Brad Panovich told WFAE Morning Edition host Marshall Terry that the shift of Florence means more rain for the Charlotte area.
The storm is expected to hit the Carolinas hard later this week.
Hurricane conditions will likely hit on Friday, but tropical storm conditions will arrive on Thursday, according to the hurricane center.More news: Verizon 5G Home Service Launches Oct. 1: Here's All the Details
More news: Sneak Preview of the iPad Pro 12.9
More news: Erdogan urges Russia, Iran to stop 'disaster' in Syria's Idlib
The National Weather Service's best guess was that the hurricane would blow ashore Saturday morning along the North Carolina-South Carolina line, then push its rainy way westward with a potential for catastrophic inland flooding.
Even miles away from the Atlantic, North Carolina residents in low-lying areas are boarding up and emptying stores.
Streets were quiet with schools and many offices and businesses closed.
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said. The two hardware chains said they sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks. I believe in preparation, ' Wright said.
Walking his dog along empty streets, Belli said he's well stocked with food and water.
"All interests from SC into the Mid-Atlantic region should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and follow any advice given by local officials", the Hurricane Center said.
Both of the Carolinas and Virginia ordered mandatory evacuations for some of their residents starting at noon Tuesday and over a million people are expected to flee. The researchers continuously track the hurricane as it makes landfall to collect data on the storm's speed, intensity and structure.
Several inches of rain will fall across the state.
SC authorities have turned four motorways into one-way routes away from the coast to speed the exodus.