"Some strengthening is expected during the next day or so, and Florence is expected to be an extremely risky major hurricane through Thursday night. It is an extremely, dangerous, life-threatening, historic hurricane", said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
He said: "My people just informed me that this is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years".
He says storm surge could reach as high as 10 feet (3 meters) and estimates 1 million residents will be leaving the coast.
The center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas through Wednesday, and approach the coast of North Carolina or SC in the hurricane watch area Thursday and Friday.
Trump said the hurricane would be one of the largest seen "in decades", adding that the storm would be "tremendously big and tremendously wet - tremendous amount of water".
He said the federal government is ready to respond to the Category 4 storm. "Don't bet your life on riding out a monster".
Millions of residents have fled their homes and businesses as the Hurricane nears with a state of emergency being declared in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. People across the region rushed to buy bottled water and other supplies, board up their homes, pull their boats out of the water and get out of town. Between the two cities, about two hours apart, the traffic flowed smoothly in places and became gridlocked in others because of fender-benders.
"There's no water, there's no juices, there's no canned goods", Kristin Harrington said as she shopped at a Walmart in Wilmington. The storm is moving west-northwest at 17 mph and is 785 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina.
"They told me to bring a pillow and blanket", Whisler said.
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Federal officials begged residents to put together emergency kits and have a plan on where to go. "The power is going to be off for weeks". It's going to destroy infrastructure.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an Oval Office meeting on hurricane preparations for Hurricane Florence at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 11, 2018.
"We are already experiencing heavily impacted traffic on some of the evacuation routes", said Jeff Byard, the associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The president also said the states affected could get "more water than we have ever seen in a storm or a hurricane".
All of those, however, made landfall south of where Florence is predicted to hit, and Florence's wind speeds are predicted to be higher than those four storms.
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.
Duke Energy spokesman Ryan Mosier said operators would begin shutting down nuclear plants at least two hours before hurricane-force winds arrive.
On Monday, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for residents living along the entire 187-mile long SC coast.
"We've seen nor'easters and we've seen hurricanes before", Cooper said, "but this one is different".