A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington.
WILMINGTON: Florence barreled into the Carolina coast and moved inland on Friday, knocking down trees, overflowing rivers, dumping sheets of rain and leading to the death of five people before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc. The father was taken to a nearby hospital with injuries.
More than 440,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said.
"This storm is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days", Cooper said.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC, as well as up to 10 inches (25 cm) in southwestern Virginia.
The National Hurricane Center described Florence's path as a wobble around southeastern North Carolina. The storm knocked out power to almost 930,000 homes and businesses, and the number could keep rising.
In Lenoir County, a 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords, and another died when he was blown away by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs.
Most of the rivers in northeast SC and eastern North Carolina are experiencing moderate to major flooding and, in some cases, many continue rising well into next week as floodwaters from the interior flow downstream.
The Navy says nearly 30 Virginia-based ships and 128 aircraft sent away from their bases in the Hampton Roads-area because of now-Tropical Storm Florence have been given the go-ahead to return.
"USA readies for ‘big one" as Hurricane Florence approaches Carolinas
It said the hurricane was about 520 miles (820km) southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina , on Wednesday. Governor Cooper said the state would arrange a visit by Trump "at an appropriate time".
"While the weather conditions have improved, motorists should be cautious of fallen trees, downed power lines, and standing water in and around roadways".
At 5 p.m., Florence had been downgraded to a tropical storm, with sustained winds of 70 miles per hour.
Jon Wright considers himself one of the lucky residents of Wilmington, N.C. - so far.
In New Bern, the picturesque riverfront town and birth place of Pepsi, where the Neuse and Trent rivers meet, incoming Mayor Sabrina Bengel said hundreds had been rescued after residents began calling before daybreak as waters rose to rooftops.
"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", Ballance said. Morehead City, North Carolina, had received 23 inches (58 centimeters) of rain by Friday night with more torrents on the way.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted around 2 a.m.
Tropical Storm Florence is practically stalled over the Carolinas and the monster storm could dump drenching rains of up to 3½ feet (1 meter). The figure for SC was 170,000. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later cancelled. A town spokesman said between 60 and 75 people were awaiting rescue on Saturday.
Florence will move slowly Saturday, and pick up a bit of forward speed Sunday.
"I had a lot of fear initially but I'm glad to be inside and safe", said Zelda Allen, 74, a retired tax accountant from Hampstead, North Carolina, who was riding out the storm at Wilmington's Hotel Ballast with her husband.