The NHC said: “There is an increasing risk of life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast, freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event inland, and damaging hurricane-force winds.”
President Donald Trump has cancelled plans for a rally on September 14 in Mississippi because of the hurricane.
In North Carolina, there have been long queues in supermarkets around communities near waterways and coastlines as residents clear shelves of water, batteries and plywood.
Governor Roy Cooper waived agricultural transportation restrictions in order to allow farmers to move goods more quickly.
Red flag warnings are keeping swimmers off beaches, as residents sandbag their homes in the communities of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, and the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval installation in the world, is preparing to send ships away from bases to weather the storm out at sea.
Two other hurricanes are currently churning in the Atlantic Ocean.
Hurricanes Isaac and Helene are expected to accelerate, but at this point, are not expected to threaten the US mainland.
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