A mother and her baby died when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.
“We’ve had people in attics, on top of roofs”, she said.
Parts of the Carolinas are expected to see 20 to 30 inches of rain over the next seven days.
The National Hurricane Center said the area should also expect “life-threatening” storm surges, hurricane-strength wind gusts and “catastrophic” fresh water flooding as Hurricane Florence slowly churns inland.
For more on Hurricane Florence, visit the FOX 46 Resource Center.
New Hanover County officials said Thursday morning that it could accept more residents seeking shelter at Trask Middle School, Eaton Elementary School, Codington Elementary School, the Johnson Pre-K Center and Noble Middle School.
“Cameras outside the International Space Station captured views of Hurricane Florence on September 14 at 7:41 a.m. EDT minutes after the storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina packing winds of 90 miles an hour”, NASA said in a video description.
Food Lion, Bi-Lo, Aldi, Lidl, Kroger, Harris Teeter, Walmart and Publix were among the chains announcing temporary store closures in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia as Florence passes through the region.
Duke Energy was reporting increasing power outages across the Piedmont, including 8,241 customers without power in Wake County, 1,557 in Chatham County, 728 in Durham County, and 920 in Orange County.
The town of Oriental had gotten more than 18 inches of rain just a few hours into the deluge, while Surf City had 14 inches and it was still coming down.
In Craven County, authorities say they received more than 150 telephone calls to rescue people in the historic town of New Bern because water had entered their homes. “I’m not sure if it’s a shift in the wind or low tide – but the water has miraculously disappeared”.
“These are folks who made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation”, city public information officer Colleen Roberts said. “These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they’re seeing the floodwaters rise”. “If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it”.
“There’s going to be really nowhere for anybody to go”, said Chief House with Wrightsville Beach Police. He said all roads leading to his neighborhood were blocked by fallen trees.
“It’s insane”, he said in a phone interview.
The NHC described Florence as a “slow mover” and said it had the potential to dump historic amounts of rain on North and SC, as much as one metre in some places.
“The worst of the storm is not yet here, but these are the early warnings of the days to come”, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters just before the hurricane made landfall.
Heavy flooding is expected, with a storm surge up to 13ft (4 metres) in the area stretching from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, North Carolina.
It was expected to begin pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a watery siege that could go on all weekend.
The storm’s intensity held at about 90 miles per hour (144 kph), and it appeared that the north side of the eye was the most unsafe place to be as Florence moved ashore.