Electricity remained out for much of the city, known for its historic mansions, with power lines lying across roads like wet strands of spaghetti.
Emergency personnel received numerous calls Thursday morning after the storm was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane, Horry County spokeswoman Gina Vasselli said.
Meteorologists warn the storm may be one of the worst to hit the region in decades and could potentially be the worst to hit ever.
Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 100 miles per hour (155 kph) winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend.
But astonishing winds aren't the biggest danger. "It also has the highest potential to cause the most destruction".
"This will have a storm surge in the 20-foot range", Myers said.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged people to take the storm seriously.
And no one knows how far inland that coastal flooding will spread, or how many inland communities will be washed out.
Volunteers from the Civilian Crisis Response Team help people to higher ground after rescuing them from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence in James City, North Carolina.
The storm surge - often the most perilous risk to life posed by any hurricane - is expected to inundate areas along the coast with saltwater that's 9-13 feet deep, from Cape Fear, N.C., to Cape Lookout, N.C. That's because the longer this slow-moving hurricane hovers over land, the more rain it'll dump in the same places.
Even though the storm's category fell from a 4 to a 2 Wednesday (local time), forecasters stressed the category is only an evaluation of the storm's peak winds in a very narrow core near the center of the storm.
Services and flights have been suspended on Thursday and Friday at Wilmington International Airport on North Carolina's coast. That system could develop into a tropical depression by Friday.
The main threat from this storm will likely be inland flooding.
SC authorities reported one death.
Aside from safety concerns, Atlantic Coast Conference schools face scheduling obstacles, monetary implications and bowl considerations.
And in the 29 years since Hurricane Hugo struck, the population of the coastal Carolinas has skyrocketed.
Up to 1.7m residents on the eastern seaboard have been scrambling to evacuate their homes as government officials warned the hurricane would deliver a "Mike Tyson punch" to South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.
"As the rain pours down during the storm, inland evacuations may become necessary and the time for completing such tasks will come to an end as travel becomes increasing hard and risky", Sosnowski said.