The storm trapped hundreds of people in high water as it settled in for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching. The father was taken to hospital with unspecified injuries. Local media said she had suffered a heart attack.
More than two feet of rain has bombarded the counties. Trump planned a visit to the region next week.
The Category 1 hurricane began to throttle the Carolinas Thursday with a heavy storm surge that burst inland, causing major flooding in New Bern, N.C., where WCTI, the city's ABC affiliate, is located, The Weather Channel reported. "This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the Hurricane Center said.
"We're deeply concerned for whole communities which could be wiped away".
A new 5-minute video from the space station shows Florence coming ashore in the US for the first time.
He said 20,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state.
The hurricane came ashore early Friday, pounding the state with torrential rain and high winds.
According to the National Hurricane Centre, heavy rains with tropical-storm-force winds are spreading across the outer banks and coastal southeastern North Carolina.
"This is not the end of it", said Jeff Byard, associate administrator for response and recovery at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
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Blowing ashore with howling 90 miles per hour winds, Hurricane Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster.
"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.
More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate.
Among those volunteers was the Cajun Navy, a volunteer rescue organization formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines. "And you don't need power to sling booze", said owner Eli Ellsworth.
More than 440,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday, utility officials said.
"More people die from storm surge than any proponent of hurricanes", Kottlowsk tells TIME.
On top of the potentially destructive hurricane, forecasters also put parts of North Carolina on tornado watch.
"And it's just a Category 1 hurricane", Tarr said.