"Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that's what we're about to see", he said.
Several million people could lose power by the time Florence sloshes its way through the state.
More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.
Wilmington resident Julie Terrell said she was concerned after walking to breakfast past a row of shops fortified with boards, sandbags and hurricane shutters.
"So if there if a storm surge of ten feet at high tide which is plus two feet above the North Carolina sea level so the storm surge would mean that you will be at twelve feet and then the waves would be in addition to that", says Young.
The city's residential garbage, recycling and yard waste has been cancelled for Friday and has been rescheduled for Monday, weather permitting.
Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning".
Mayor Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune told CNN traffic out of the SC city has more than quadrupled as residents and visitors evacuate.
Image: Waters come ashore in Avon, North Carolina.More news: Seattle Storm sweep Washington Mystics to capture WNBA championship
Even so, many residents of Myrtle Beach proudly recalled how they had weathered a number of storms in the past and were confident they could ride out Florence too. Hurricane-force winds are expected to spread to parts of the coast Friday. Among those feeling the impact of the stormwere local farmers, whose tobacco and corn harvests had not been completed.
Kaplan has been working with emergency managers in North Carolina and school administrators in Boston and Charlotte to coordinate the university's response. "Corn harvest ranges 75 percent in the east to just beginning in the west", said Steve Troxler, the state's agricultural commissioner. We probably will be getting heavy winds and rain for the next few days. Forty inches of rainfall are possible in some areas of North Carolina. "Catastrophic effects will be felt".
Government disaster management agencies have encouraged evacuation.
President Trump made a surprise phone call to a North Carolina mayor Thursday to reassure him that the federal government was tracking Hurricane Florence and to open a line of communication between the two.
"Don't relax", Cooper said on Thursday. "Plan to be without power for days". Check on your family and neighbors to make sure they are prepared as well.
More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders were hoping to be rescued.
Dozens of North Carolina school districts were closed, as well as almost all schools in the University of North Carolina system. Athletic events, notably college football games, also were postponed.
While the inland city rarely faces challenges from hurricanes, campus officials employ a series of emergency protocols to handle any weather-related events, said Cheryl Richards, chief executive officer and regional dean of Northeastern's Charlotte campus.
After making landfall in Jamaica and Cuba and weakening to a tropical storm, Sandy re-intensified into a Category 2 hurricane shortly before making landfall in New Jersey as a post-tropical cyclone, according to the National Hurricane Center.