North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days". Isolated areas could see as much as 40 inches. The storm is expected to lumber into far southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC through Saturday, punishing the area with rain and damaging winds.
Hurricane Florence is thrashing the Carolina coast with devastating flooding and hurricane-force winds.
Atlantic Beach on North Carolina's Outer Banks islands had already received 30 inches (76 cm) of rain, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Hurricane Florence had been projected to hit the area earlier in the week, causing many people to hit the stores and stock up on bread, water and batteries. "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 made a decision to stay and ride out the storm for whatever reason, despite having a mandatory evacuation", she said.
In Belhaven, the Pungo River roared into town, crashing up against homes at a waist-high level and higher late Thursday and early Friday, video from Amy Johnson showed.
The White House said on Friday President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help.
There have been two fatalities in Kinston as a result of Florence, according to Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail.
"Trees are blowing down in the wind".
Hurricane Florence Could Bring Up To 30 Inches Of Rain To Carolinas
Its unclear exactly how many people fled, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. Despite its unpredictable path, it was forecast to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday on Friday.
The North Carolina town stood largely deserted as the storm swept in, leaving a trail of smashed windows, downed trees and road signs bent double by the force of the wind.
"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.
The Hurricane Florence has began to unleash fierce rains across the United States southeast.
"When it comes around back, that's when I'll be making a call", he said.
"It's important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete, and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1:00 a.m. ET this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted".
Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.
By early afternoon, Florence's winds had weakened to 75 miles per hour, just barely a hurricane and well below the storm's terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week.
And while Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday afternoon, meteorologists predict heavy rain - up to 2 feet of rain when all is said and done - will continue into the weekend.
Over 1 million people are under evacuation warnings, with 10 million more under storm watches and warnings, CBS News reports. He added that there would be no mercy for those who try to steal from others' homes during the storm.
Maysie Baumgardner, 7, and her family sheltered at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as Florence filled the streets with floodwaters. "I'm a little bit scared right now, but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix". They're predicting a potential million to 2.5 million people without power and so that is going to be a painstaking and risky process, so I'm telling people to stay where you are.