There is around 156,068 people that have lost power and police have suspended their services in Morehead City and other coastal cities, warning any residents who remain in the evacuation zone that they will be without emergency services until the storm passes.
"Second, know that water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood".
He said residents should "expect flooding and potential landslides tonight and into Monday", and warned against driving in the water "no matter how confident you feel or how much you want to get out of the house".
Forecasters warned that drenching rains of anywhere from 1 to 3½ feet as the storm crawls westward across North and SC could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days.
Its storm surge and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain were considered a bigger threat than its winds, which dropped off from an alarming 140 miles per hour - Category 4 - earlier in the week. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.
Atlantic Beach, located on the state's Outer Banks barrier islands, had received 76cm of rain, the US Geological Survey said. He was blown down at 8 a.m.at his home on Middle Street.
Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as 10 feet (3 meters).
By midday, Florence had already claimed its first lives, when a tree crashed onto a home in Wilmington, North Carolina, killing a mother and her infant daughter.More news: Duncan Smith urges No 10 to talk to critics of Brexit plan
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The third death happened in Hampstead, Pender County when a woman had a medical emergency and EMS crews could not get to her due to the storm, according to Tom Collins, Director of Emergency Management.
A 77-year-old man has also died after apparently being knocked down by the wind when he went out to check on his hunting dogs. By 2 p.m., more than 658,000 customers were without power across North Carolina, and the Triangle had begun to experience outages.
Forecasters say Florence is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and SC with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding.
Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph (225 kph) over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles (kilometers) east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.
The military announced Saturday it was deploying almost 200 soldiers to assist in storm-related response and recovery efforts, along with 100 trucks and equipment.
Hundreds of people in North Carolina have been rescued from rising water.
Florence made landfall early Friday morning as a Category 1 hurricane but weakened over the course of the day to a tropical storm.
In Wilmington, numerous trees that contributed to its historic beauty are now gone. The streets were mostly deserted and some were blocked by fallen trees.
By Friday morning Florence had already sapped power to almost 450,000 customers in the Carolinas, emergency officials said.