Meteorologists have given Hurricane Florence, which is now heading towards the United States, a category four level strength, meaning the storm could cause major structural damage costing millions.
That funding can not be spent on disaster response, they said. "If you are on the coast, there is still time to get out safely".
Even with some weakening that's predicted just before it makes landfall, the storm "is expected to remain a unsafe major hurricane as it approaches the coastline", the hurricane center said.
Timing: When Will Hurricane Florence Strike?
Florence is forecast to dump up to three feet (almost a meter) of rain in some areas.
A state of emergency has been declared in Georgia, making it the fifth state to do so, as authorities warned of storm surges and catastrophic flooding.
"Every county and every person in North Carolina needs to stay alert and take this storm seriously", Cooper said. REUTERS/Randall HillDennis Kernodle talks on the phone during storm preparations of his oceanfront home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, U.S. September 12, 2018.
US President Donald Trump has pledged that the federal government was "ready for the big one".
The Category 4 storm was expected to start hitting the North and SC coasts sometime Thursday or Friday, and should make landfall near Wilmington, N.C., early Saturday morning, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center. "This is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast".
Last night, the National Hurricane Center shifted its forecast for the hurricane's path from northwest to slightly more west, raising the potential for tropic storm-force winds in parts of Florida as soon as Friday evening.
While some said they planned to stay put despite hurricane watches and warnings that include the homes of more than 5.4 million people on the East Coast, many weren't taking any chances.
If these projections hold, University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy says "it's exceptionally bad news, as it smears a landfall out over hundreds of miles of coastline, most notably the storm surge".
Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered evacuations in counties along the state's coast, including Charleston. But it's such a large storm that the rain will keep coming down in the region no matter where it wanders. A steady stream of vehicles filled with people and belongings is moving inland.