"This is one of the worst storms to hit the East Coast in many years", Trump warned on Twitter. "This is a storm that is historic, maybe once in a lifetime".
"We will experience power outages, we will have infrastructure damage, there will be homes damaged, there will be debris on the roads - this will be a storm that creates and causes massive damage to our country", announced Jeffrey Byard, Response and Recovery administrator for FEMA.
Fierce winds and massive waves are expected to lash the coasts of North and SC and Virginia even before Florence makes landfall by early Friday, bringing a storm surge as much as four metres, the National Hurricane Center in Miami has warned.
By 5 a.m. Tuesday, Florence was centered about 975 miles (1,570 kilometers) east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, and moving west-northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).
US President Donald Trump has issued a series of warnings telling people to prepare. The storm will most likely make landfall in North Carolina or SC on Thursday. The U.S. military has begun evacuating some people in the area, including from the Marine Corps' recruit training depot at Parris Island, S.C., which sits in a marshy area on the coast.
"The power will be off for weeks", Long said.
"This storm is going to be a direct hit".
Florence is so wide that a life-threatening storm surge was being pushed 300 miles (485 kilometers) ahead of its eye, and so wet that a swath from SC to OH and Pennsylvania could get deluged.
The last time the U.S. capital declared a state of emergency was in January 2016 when a winter storm dubbed "Snowzilla" blanketed the capital region in knee-deep snow.
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South Carolina's Governor Henry McMaster has told people they need to leave the area by noon on Tuesday.
This story will be updated as more information is available regarding the reopening of schools. "I don't know where to go from here", she said.
"I'm telling them to go inland, but I'm anxious about the rain and tornadoes too", Roberts said.
Charleston, resident William Belli said he would not be among those joining the exodus. She said it was built in 2009 in Buxton, North Carolina, up on a ridge, and made to withstand a hurricane. "Not anxious in the least". In South Carolina, it applies to all 46 counties and the Catawba Indian Nation.
Three other games - Campbell at Coastal Carolina, Norfolk State at Liberty and Boston College at Wake Forest - have been rescheduled.
In Virginia, 245,000 coastal residents were ordered to evacuate including from the Eastern Shore, another popular beachfront destination.
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State emergency officials say some areas of the Commonwealth could see catastrophic levels of flooding.
Hurricane-force winds are extending up to 65 kilometres from the storm's centre, while tropical-storm-force winds are blowing out at up to 240 kilometres. "However, if the storm does stall, it could drop 10-20" of rain, leading to flooding well inland.
The South Carolina National Guard is trained and stands ready to serve the citizens of South Carolina and to provide safety, security and support when called upon.
A police vehicle patrols the beach ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, US.
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