One emergency official said it will be a "Mike Tyson punch" to the area. North and SC already faced flooding earlier this summer. They also have three dogs and three parrots. Unsure of what they might find when they return home, the couple went shopping for a recreational vehicle.
"Catastrophic effects will be felt outside the center of the storm due to storm surge as high as 9 to 13 feet".
"We had to tear down a 199-year-old house", said Pugh, a paramedic for nearby Robeson County.
"They try to stay open as long as they can", Kourounis said.
As Hurricane Florence enters warmer coastal waters, it's possible that it could gain strength (warm water is the fuel of hurricanes), but it's still not clear whether it will push up to a Category 3 storm. 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".
"It's not the middle of a hurricane yet, so why not come for a beer?" said Waters, 54.
Hurricane Florence, they found, will grow about 50 miles (80 kilometers) larger and will dump 50 percent more rain over a period from September 11 to September 16 than it would have in a world before climate change.
Most of the businesses along Main Street are deserted.
No area in the U.S. would be able to easily deal with Hurricane Florence, but the communities in its path this time are more vulnerable than in the past.
Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and he said it will still be an extremely unsafe storm for rain and storm surge. "Inland flooding kills a lot of people".
Lisa Hardin's house stands out among the flood-damaged homes on the south end of Lumberton, also located on the bank of the Lumber River.
Wilmington resident Julie Terrell said she was concerned after walking to breakfast past a row of shops fortified with boards, sandbags and hurricane shutters.
Hardin says it's been tough to watch the community struggle to bounce back.
The outer bands of Hurricane Florence have reached Wilmington, with weather officials saying the storm will bring unprecedented rain to the region.
"You've got to live somewhere", she said. Anyone in an evacuation zone in the Carolinas and Virginia must leave NOW if they haven't yet.
Matthew Peterson, on the other hand, wasn't taking any chances this time around. He fled town with more than a dozen people piled in his pickup, only to find most of the roads blocked by standing water. The recurring hurricane annual threat has made Peterson rethink where he lives.
Since Tuesday, forecasts have shifted the storm track towards the south and southwest after it reaches the coast, which could increase the storm's severity in coastal SC through Myrtle Beach and Charleston and even into parts of Georgia. The graph below also shows air pressure dropping like insane, an indicator that more powerful parts of the hurricane are coming ashore.
Governor Roy Cooper requested the added disaster declaration on Thursday (local time) because he anticipates what his office calls "historic major damage" across the state from the hurricane.