Tens of thousands were without power.
The center of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7.15am Eastern US time near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina. The storm is expected to crawl into far southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC through Saturday, punishing the area over and over with rain and damaging winds.
"Just because the wind speed came down, the intensity of this storm came down. please do not let your guard down", said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), earlier on Thursday.
He spent the last few hours of calm before the storm visiting those who stayed, collecting contact information for their next-of-kin. "Today the threat becomes a reality". "Especially for people that we've already told to evacuate". Hurricane-force winds were extending out up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 195 miles, the center said. "This rainfall would produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the Hurricane Center said. "The larger and the slower the storm is, the greater the threat and the impact-and we have that". "We just want people to be very careful".
Schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia, airlines cancelled more than 1,500 flights, and coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely emptied out. "Trees are blowing down in the wind".
"I'm not going to put our personnel in harm's way", said Dan House. "Because it's Mother Nature".
By 5 a.m., about 200 people had been rescued from flooded homes in New Bern, where the National Weather Service reported 10 feet of inundation. That's enough water to fill the Empire State Building almost 40,000 times.
"This storm will bring destruction", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
Michael Owen reveals his prediction for Watford v Man United
He won the Champions League with the side in 2013, six consecutive Bundesliga titles and three German Cups. One job that the World Cup victor continues to be linked with is Jose Mourinho's at Manchester United .
While Zone A is a mandatory evacuation zone, a city spokesperson said they would never force anyone to leave. Hundreds more were rescued elsewhere from rising water. The storm is massive and was a Category 4 hurricane at its worst that will devastate anything it encounters. Millions of people are expected to lose power and it could take weeks to resolve the outages.
Hurricane Irma destroyed Kathy Griffin's house in Florida past year, and it could be days before she finds out whether Florence smashed her fifth-story condominium in Wrightsville Beach, where authorities said utilities could be out for days or weeks. More are expected, as the storm could bring winds up to 45 miles per hour around the area, according to Durham County emergency management officials.
Scientists said it is too soon to say what role, if any, global warming played in the storm.
According to a study in June, hurricanes and typhoons, on average, appear to be slowing down in part because of human-caused climate change.
The East Coast isn't the only area facing the brunt of a storm.
Forecasters are predicting that the storm will continue to weaken but still dump potentially record-breaking amounts of rain as it moves slowly inland.
"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", said Fisher, 74. He made a plan B: if the water reached the house, he'd take the pets upstairs to the second floor. First responders urge residents to get out though, because this storm is unlike the others.