So will the trees. Before night fell there were no reports of power loss nor significant damage. The tropical storm force winds now extend out 195 miles.
"Sometime Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning", Goldstein said.
Despite days of warnings to evacuate, some residents are staying put - even if they don't want to.
By early evening, almost 70,000 residents were without electricity, according to North Carolina Emergency Management. They also have three dogs and three parrots.
"The anxiety level has dropped substantially", Epperson said. "Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said. "Many that will accept them only allow one per room".
"We try to facilitate. anything that makes a smooth transition from home to shelter", he said.
And there's no way her family could afford that - or the $1,728 per room another hotel quoted.
He reminded residents to only use 911 for emergencies, and 211 if you are in need of shelter or food.
"The time has come to recognize that we can not hold the shoreline still", retired Duke University coastal geologist Orrin H. Pilkey, who has written several books about the impact of sea-level rise, argued in The News & Observer last week.
"One minute we're at a high state of alert, the next we're at a low state, but we can adapt to the situation", said Capt. Eric Abdullah, of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, who said officials were trying to stay flexible. "Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks".
"But I'm not afraid", he said. "But I think it'll be OK".
About 10 million people live in the path of the slow-moving storm and more than 1 million had been ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia, jamming westbound roads and highways for miles.
A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia and the U.S. capital Washington.
A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore.
The mayor of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, said authorities have stopped allowing traffic to the island via the only bridge between the island and the mainland. The storm surge could reach up to more than 3.9m, if the maximum surge coincides with high tide.
"This storm will bring destruction to North Carolina", Cooper said.
Storm surge is deadly. "I'm very nervous about that storm surge".
"Even the rescuers can not stay there", he said.
Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.
Spanish Astronaut, Alexander Gerst was part of an global crew that took these incredible photos of Florence from the worldwide Space Station and they are intense, to say the least. A tornado watch, on the other hand, means tornadoes are possible and people should be prepared, the NWS says. "But even worse than that is coming back in because you don't know what you're coming back to". From east to west, the community is less than a dozen blocks deep, with the Atlantic on one side and the Cape Fear River on the other. Hurricane Helene is veering toward Ireland and Great Britain. And newly formed Subtropical Storm Joyce is not expected to threaten land soon.