The storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 a.m.as a Category 1 storm packing 90 mile per hour winds.
The Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina yesterday began to flow over its banks, triggering flooding as waters continued to rise from torrential rainfall.
A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.
A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.
"Florence is here to stay for awhile", McMaster said from Columbia Friday afternoon. The storm is moving at a crawling speed - just 3 miles per hour.
NASA footage reveals the 'menacing' Hurricane Florence
Officials had warned before the storm that the rains could risk tainting waterways with murky coal ash and toxic hog waste. Old Dominion's football game at Charlotte (North Carolina) has been moved up to Thursday because of Hurricane Florence .
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.
The NHC said Hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles (130 kms) from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 195 miles (315 kms) out. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, a pick-up truck drove into standing water on the road and lost control, overturning into a ditch.
"Florence is an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper told NPR's Morning Edition.
The governor said half a million people in North Carolina were without power and the Neuse River had seen storm surge as high as 10 feet.
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.
The state's transportation secretary, James Trogdon, said the state may see "flood events" that normally only occur once every 1,000 years.
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In Jacksonville, North Carolina, officials rescued about 60 people overnight from a hotel that was collapsing in the storm. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces".
The port city of Wilmington woke Friday to the sound of exploding electrical transformers with strong gusts throwing street signs and other debris as well as water in all directions, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. Only one North Carolina is expected to more than 1 meter of rain.
"We are expecting several more days of rain and our focus now is getting people away from immediate danger and then we will shift to putting our communities back together", Cooper said Friday.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually make a right hook to the northeast over the southern Appalachians, moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England as a tropical depression by the middle of next week.
Duke Energy reported about 6,200 customers were without power in the Charlotte area by 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
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