Meanwhile, lane reversals on USA 501 ended at noon and reversals on I-26 end Thursday night, allowing state police and transportation workers to get to a safe location before the storm hits. "Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill".
By Thursday morning, the wind and rain tore the flag down the stripes all the way to the pole.
Myrtle Beach was virtually deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.
"I end up hearing more negative stories about leaving than staying", Mrs. Mramer said. "I'm going to Charlotte". "We're able", he said.
At 15:00 GMT (11:00 am), Florence was over the Atlantic Ocean about 230 km (145 miles) east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and moving northwest at 17 kph (10 mph), the NHC said. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles.
The National Weather Service is forecasting "significant" river flooding, especially in the northeastern portion of the state.
That mix of impressions - a respect for this storm's sheer size and the massive amount of rain and seawater it brings, along with a resignation to storms being part of life on the coast - is also part of the reaction in low-lying areas to the north.
A spokesman for the North Carolina Poultry Federation said Matthew was a problem partly because it hit so quickly birds couldn't be moved in time and that in one county multiple farms were flooded after an earthen dam overflowed.
Long said the danger was not only along the coast. And newly formed Subtropical Storm Joyce is not expected to threaten land soon. North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from adult prisons and juvenile centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.
Check out these live-streams from the coast.
In the North Carolina town of Rodanthe, on Hatteras Island, Rebecca Well Hooper shot video of the pier early Thursday afternoon. Then it is likely to hover along the coast Saturday, pushing up to 13 feet (nearly 4 meters) of storm surge and unloading water on both states.
The Red Cross has urgent response preparations ongoing in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. "The infrastructure is going to break, the power is going to go out". And according to meteorologists, the rainfall in parts of North Carolina could exceed three feet with Florence. Hotel companies house the workers at apartment villages and took them by bus to the shelter, Strawderman said.
"I'm used to them, I'm really not afraid of hurricanes".
"We'll handle it. We're ready".
In Wilmington, residents who had decided not to evacuate were lining up to get ice from a vending machine - US$2 for a 16-pound (7.2-kilo) bag.
For those using generators, never operate them inside a structure, he said, and keep them outside in a well-ventilated area.
Avair Vereen, 39, took her seven children to a shelter in Conway High School.
"We call them disasters because they break things", said FEMA's Long. "I've got four cats inside the house".
"Since my husband retired and my health declined, we have his retirement as an income".