Trump

President Donald Trump responds to a reporters question during an event with sheriffs in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Donald Trump asked more than 1 million people Wednesday in the Carolinas and Virginia to listen to local authorities and evacuate from the coast as Hurricane Florence rumbles toward the South Carolina-North Carolina border.

"Get out of the way," he said in a video. "Don't play games with it. It's a big one, maybe as big as they've seen."

Trump said federal officials have food and medical supplies ready to be handed out by Federal Emergency Management Administration officials and first responders whom he called "finest people, I think, anywhere in the world."

"Despite that, bad things can happen with a storm this size," the president said. "It's called Mother Nature. You never know, but we know. We love you all. ... Be ready and God be with you."

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered the evacuation of all or parts Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Horry and Georgetown counties with more than 750,000 people. Lanes have been reversed on Interstate 26 and U.S. 501 to speed the path away from the coast.

Hurricane warnings extend from Georgetown up through the Outer Banks in North Carolina, where state leaders are evacuating the coast. Virginia also issued coastal evacuation orders.  

Florence is expected to be the strongest hurricane to strike the Carolinas coast since Hugo in 1989 as a Category 4 storm.

Florence's path after making landfall takes the weakened storm through South Carolina during the weekend, according to National Hurricane Center forecasts. 

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, a former S.C. governor, also tweeted Wednesday as the major Category 4 storm is expected to reach the coast as early as Friday.

She wrote: "Prayers for my fellow South Carolinians and our sister state of North Carolina. Please be safe."

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Columbia Bureau Chief

Shain runs The Post and Courier's team based in South Carolina's capital city. He was editor of Free Times and has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Charlotte, Columbia and Myrtle Beach.