The guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) departs Naval Station Norfolk on September 10, 2018 in preparation for Hurricane Florence. Commander, US Fleet Forces Command ordered all Navy Ships in the Hampton Roads area to sortie ahead of Hurricane Florence. (AFP PHOTO / US NAVY / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert)
On Monday afternoon, nurse Barbara Mack was using a small shovel to fill sandbags at a public works facility in Charleston -- but she saw a silver lining in the hurricane preparations.
"This is good exercise," she quipped. "This is probably the only exercise I get this week."
Storm surge and hurricane watches may be issued Tuesday morning for portions of southeastern US states, the NHC said.
On its current track, Florence is expected to slam the Carolinas and Virginia the hardest.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office warned of "catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages," cautioning that the deadliest risk would come from flooding.
The US Navy said it was preparing to send about 30 ships stationed in Virginia out to sea.
The vessels will get underway from Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek to avoid potential damage from winds and tidal surges, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said.