Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water.
A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from Wilmington police. The department, which did not release their names, said that the father of the child was transported to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center with injuries.
Two people died in Lenoir County.
The water "is as high as it's ever been, and waves are breaking on my point, which is normally grass", said Copeland, a freelance photographer for The Associated Press.
Jay Manning said he and his wife watched with alarm as water filled the street. It came as rivers swelled, tides crested and the rain wouldn't stop. "My wife's in a panic right now".
Hurricane Florence is making landfall in North Carolina Friday morning. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).
"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the National Hurricane Center briefing said. As of Friday morning, Atlantic Beach, a town on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier island chain, already had received 30 inches (76 cm) of rain, the U.S. Geological Service said.More news: Tory Brexit rebels in retreat? Plot to topple Theresa May denied
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By Friday night the center of the storm had moved to eastern SC, about 15 miles northeast of Myrtle Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.
The category one hurricane was sat 10 miles east of Wilmington, North Carolina, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its 11am BST (6am EDT) update. Even before Florence officially made landfall, it had already caused more than 320,000 power outages reported in North Carolina and 4,400 more in SC. More than 22,600 people were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena.
More than 100 people needed to be rescued from roofs and attics by boat Friday in New Bern as floodwaters rose where the Neuse and Trent rivers meet, according to the city's mayor.
Federal officials are urging anyone who ignored orders to evacuate from Hurricane Florence to hunker down and stay put until the storm passes. The map behind her disappears, and thanks to wonders of mixed reality, we can actually see the wind raging and the water rising on a street, complete with cars, trees and buildings in the background.
Staff at New Bern's WCTI-TV NewsChannel 12 had to abandon their studio after roads around the building began flooding. Latest predictions show the storm slowing to a near standstill as it pummels the coast with abundant amounts of rain. "This is a 500- or 1,000-year event". Trump planned a visit to the region next week.
Heavy rain, gusting winds and rising floodwaters from Hurricane Florence deluged the Carolinas on Thursday as the massive, slow-moving storm crept toward the coastline, threatening millions of people in its path with record rainfall and punishing surf. Steady organization resulted in the formation of a tropical depression, environmental conditions tore the storm apart, and Florence degraded to a tropical storm later.
Florence was one of two major storms threatening millions of people on opposite sides of the world.