The hurricane came ashore early Friday, pounding the state with torrential rain and high winds.
Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will become a tropical storm tomorrow (Sept. 15) over SC, continue northwest to eastern Kentucky, then swing northeast and track over most of New England early next week.
"There's going to be really nowhere for anybody to go", said Chief House with Wrightsville Beach Police. It's expected to move slowly over eastern SC on Friday night through Saturday night.
More than 700,000 people were left without power and millions more were warned by the governor of North Carolina that they were facing "an extremely risky situation".
Hurricane Florence has weakened somewhat early Thursday as its outer bands approach the North Carolina coast, but weather officials cautioned that the storm will still bring life-threatening conditions.
"I had a lot of fear initially but I'm glad to be inside and safe", said Zelda Allen, 74, a retired tax accountant from Hampstead, North Carolina, who was riding out the storm at Wilmington's Hotel Ballast with her husband. Six sheriff's officers came to his house to rescue him Friday morning, but he didn't need to leave since the water was dropping by then.
Time almost up: Fierce Hurricane Florence aims at Southeast
Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave. A National Weather Service forecaster has said it will be the "storm of a lifetime" for parts of the Carolina coast.
In New Bern, Sarah Risty-Davis is one of the residents who opted not to follow a mandatory evacuation order that was issued three days ago. Hurricane Florence hit Wilmington as a category 1 storm causing widespread damage and flooding along the Carolina coastline.
Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared a year ago for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.
Flooding and a strong storm surge prompted more than 90 calls to the emergency operation center in Craven County, N.C., for residents trapped in vehicles and homes, spokeswoman Amber Parker said.
"I'm not in the best health no more, and my trailer is old like me, and I figured I better haul buggy", he said.
At 7 a.m., the center of the eye was located about 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Wilmington, moving west at 6 mph.
A dog is rescued from floodwaters in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
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Since issuing a mandatory evacuation order Wednesday, nearly all of the more than 2500 residents left the island. At 90 miles per hour , its wind speed was dipping but still risky . "We are stuck in the attic".
In a hurricane, as Live Science has reported, the most significant threat is flooding, not the high winds.
Hours before the storm made landfall Friday, workers at New Bern's WCTI-TV NewsChannel 12 had to abandon their studio for the "first time in history", the station posted on Facebook Thursday night.
Still, he said: "I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth".
Both the Trent and Neuse rivers overflowed their banks, flooding homes, stores and streets and trapping many people in their houses.
"Some of the rainfall totals we're getting are already adding up to about 14 inches", NHC Director Ken Graham said shortly after 11 a.m. ET.
Parts of North and SC were forecast to get as much as one metre of rain.
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