Given that the forward speed of Florence will slow to a crawl today and tonight, coastal areas in the Carolinas will have to withstand these destructive winds for a very long period of time.
Hurricane Florence carries a heavy risk of flash floods as it brings up to 13-foot storm surge and a possible 40 inches of rain to the Carolina coast.
Florence could do more than $170bn (£130bn) of damage and affect almost 759,000 homes and businesses, says analytics firm CoreLogic.
Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.
"The first bands are upon us", Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday evening.
And Cooper said the state is expecting significant flooding even after the storm passes.
"We are ready, but this is going to be one of the biggest ones to ever hit our country", said the president.
"We hope to have something left when we get home", she said.
Thus, Florence may even strike as a Category 1 Hurricane.
"When you are looking at a storm surge of this magnitude, where the National Weather Service says that the damage is going to be unbelievable and that they can not emphasize that enough, we know that that is a message that we should listen to", said Cooper.
Duke has said it could take several weeks to fully restore power in areas that are inaccessible due to flooding.
The bad news? The still-dangerous storm is slowing down ... and is expected to take a leisurely "fish hook" dip through SC after coming ashore somewhere between Carolina Beach, N.C. and Emerald Isle, N.C. sometime around 2:00 a.m. EDT.
NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook the storm surges could push in as far as 2 miles (3 km). Other residents have told CNN they're not evacuating because emergency shelters won't accept pets. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees. The hurricane is now centered about 220 miles (354km) east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and 170 miles to the south-east of Wilmington, North Carolina. The trend is "exceptionally bad news", said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy, since it "smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".