As Florence churned slowly towards the coasts of North and SC as a Category 2 hurricane, federal and state officials issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" weather system.
A simulation weather video is showing what the life-threatening Hurricane Florence storm surge might look like if it reaches a frightening nine feet (2.7m).
DEVASTATION: Marine One carrying US President Bill Clinton along with North Carolina Governor James Hunt 20 September, 1999, survey the flood damage over Tarboro, North Carolina, which was damaged by high winds and rain from Hurricane Floyd. "Today, the threat becomes a reality".
According to meteorologist Eric Holthaus, even though Florence's winds might not be as strong, Florence could be much worse than Hugo.
"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the briefing said. "The larger and the slower the storm is, the greater the threat and the impact - and we have that".
In a new demonstration of the network's CGI capabilities, hosts have presented from the centre of a digital storm surge to demonstrate the hurricane's damaging potential.
The forecast calls for as much as 40 inches (102 centimeters) of rain over seven days along the coast, with the deluge continuing even as the center of the storm pushes its way over the Appalachian Mountains.
Trump has declared states of emergency for North and SC ahead of the Category 4 hurricane, which frees up help from federal agencies.
By early evening, almost 70,000 residents were without electricity, according to North Carolina Emergency Management.
Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.
SC ordered the mandatory evacuation of one million coastal residents while North Carolina announced an evacuation of the Outer Banks, a popular tourist destination.
The fates of the region's furry, feathered and finned friends were also up in the air, as staffers scrambled to secure zoos, aquariums and animal shelters.
Tranters Creek near Washington, North Carolina is experiencing minor flooding, and the town is suffering as a result.
Zookeepers and veterinarians resolved to hunker down with the creatures and see them through the storm. Some 3,000 people died in the aftermath of that storm.
In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were told to flee. "That's why we're begging for assistance".
"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said.
As the last-minute evacuations and preparations of those who refuse to leave wound down, an eerie calm has settled over typically bustling Carolina cities. Airlines had canceled almost 1,000 flights and counting.
Despite days of warnings to evacuate, some residents are staying put - even if they don't want to.
"It's really unsafe out right now", Beaufort, NC, Mayor Everette Newton told CNN.
Separately, Toronto-Dominion Bank said it will close 17 of its 61 branches in SC and two of 14 in North Carolina. "He is the only caregiver to me and my son", Browning said. Stay on guard. This is a powerful storm that can kill.
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