A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from Wilmington police. The child's injured father was hospitalized. It's believed he died after he was blown down while going outside to check on his dogs.
The NHC went on to say that a few tornadoes could form in eastern and southeastern North Carolina into Friday. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.
"Either no (hotel) rooms are available, or we are denied because the breed or size of dogs", she said.
The National Weather Service said as much as 18cm of rain had fallen overnight in some coastal areas.
After reaching a terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 mph earlier in the week, Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline. A high tide could push 1 feet to 3 feet of water on shore, the National Hurricane Center said.
Florence is now moving to the northwest at 17 km per hour.
Rivers are expected to burst their banks.Some 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
More than 360 people had been rescued by midafternoon Friday, hours after then-Hurricane Florence swept through, but another 140 were still waiting for help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts told The Associated Press.
Carolina Beach lies on a narrow strip of land in the southern part of North Carolina. Florence's center will approach the North and SC coasts late Thursday and Friday.
As if that weren't enough, an natural disaster also hit SC about 6:30 a.m. Thursday. Hurricane-force winds and inland flooding also is a concern.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds across the state.
The worst storm surge comes in with a hurricane's eye, and it arrives "with a lot of debris to batter you, and it's not particularly survivable", Masters said. "Our meteorologists are saying that the rainfall amounts will be devastating in certain areas", he said Thursday. The forecasters say the slow speed will give Florence time to pound the Carolinas with bands of heavy rain.
In Shallotte, N.C., a coastal town near the border with SC, emergency orders forced a Waffle House to shut down - an act that was widely seen as a sign of respect for Florence's imposing size and strength. The rainfall will produce life-threatening flash flooding.
About 800 flights in the region have been canceled ahead of the storm, CNN reported.
"It's not going to take much in a lot of these areas to saturate the soil, so trees are going to come down really easily" and knock down power lines, said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center. "And I can not stress enough the importance of adhering to the governor's orders for mandatory evacuation". A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia - as well as the USA capital Washington.
The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties.
A hurricane warning is in effect for South Santee River, SC, north to Duck, NC, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. Charleston felt the impact of three days of record-setting 10-foot storm surges in 2017.
In a large briefing room peppered with monitors broadcasting the river flood outlook and key takeaways from the storm, the state's Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker filmed short videos reminding residents not to drive through standing water or operate gas generators indoors.
Those waves were coming from the Neuse River, which is about 25 feet (8 meters) away, and downhill, from his house. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions. "This storm will bring destruction to North Carolina".
Hurricane Helene is veering toward Ireland and Great Britain.
Destructive wind gusts topping 100 miles per hour are likely near and just north of where Florence approaches the coast.
Yet another tropical storm formed in the Atlantic Thursday night.
As of 11 p.m., Florence was centered about 85 miles (135 kilometers) east-southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to 5 mph (7 kph). It's forecast to turn northeastward and accelerate in that direction over the weekend.
Another disturbance is swirling around in the Gulf of Mexico. Further development of that system is no longer anticipated, the NHC said.