Florence was one of two major storms threatening millions of people on opposite sides of the world. "I'm going to get killed on the road, '" Bradley said.
"It truly is really about the whole size of this storm", National Hurricane Centre director Ken Graham said.
More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia. Isolated tornadoes could also occur along North Carolina's coast on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington. But forecasters warned that the widening storm - and its likelihood of lingering around the coast day after day - will bring seawater surging onto land and torrential downpours.
Florence's winds have dropped from a peak of 140mph to 105mph, reducing the hurricane from a Category 4 to a Category 2.
Florence's winds and rains began to batter the Carolinas on Thursday.
Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 storm overnight on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale but it is still packing hurricane-force winds of 165 kilometres per hour (105 miles per hour), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Some Florence evacuees are steering toward Bristol Motor Speedway near the Tennessee-Virginia border and Atlanta Motor Speedway, where campgrounds have been opened for people fleeing the storm.
And because Hurricane Florence has the potential to stall, it could inflict a lot more damage and cause more severe flooding in North Carolina than Floyd did 19 years ago. "Today the threat becomes a reality", he said. Meacham says the state can house more than 35,000 people if needed. "As soon as I get the call to go to work, I'm a changed man".
The storm has a wide reach, too.
"We expected it to strengthen and then as it approached the coast to weaken somewhat", Abrams says.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News.
"Prepare for the worst, hope for the best", McMaster said he told residents.
While the storm has since weakened, a storm surge of more than 12-feet and almost 30-inches of rain is still expected.
Will Epperson, a 36-year-old golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm at their home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but reconsidered due to its ferocity.
"Just because the wind speeds came down, the intensity of this storm came down to a Category 2, please do not let your guard down", said FEMA Administrator Brock Long. But authorities warn Florence has an enormous wind field as it zeroes in on the Southeast U.S. coast, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely unsafe.
Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, at 7:15 a.m. on Friday and left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power in the state. The storm is moving northwest at 17 miles per hour (27 kph). (AAP) Millions of residents on the USA east coast are on high alert as Hurricane Florence approaches. "Your time is running out".