With tropical storm-force winds swirling 350 miles wide, Florence continued deluging North and SC on Saturday morning after pushing surging seas far ashore.
As 400-mile-wide (645-kilometer-wide) Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach more than 360 people besieged by rising waters in New Bern, North Carolina, while many of their neighbors awaited help.
As of 5 a.m. Saturday, the storm's center was about 35 miles west of Myrtle Beach, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Mother Lesha Murphy-Johnson and her baby, Zac, were killed after being trapped inside their home in Wilmington when a tree fell onto the roof at around 9.30am on Friday. The child´s injured father was taken to a hospital. A 78-year-old man was killed while trying to connect extension cords outside in the rain, ABC News reported, citing Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail.
Flood waters from the Trent River inundate a park in Pollocksville, North Carolina on September 14, 2018 during Hurricane Florence.
Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.
Tom Ballance said his wife went to Atlanta and he stayed behind in their New Bern home with their three dogs and a cat. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later cancelled. "This is a 500- or 1,000-year event".
Florence was packing 120mph winds (193km/h) on Thursday but weakened from a Category 3 hurricane to Category 1 before it hit the coastline on Friday.
Parts of southern North Carolina and northeastern SC could see another foot or more of rain over the weekend, according to National Weather Service.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC.
About 10 million people could be affected by the storm.
Cooper warned: "Don't drive through water, no matter how confident you feel or how much you want to get out of the house".
Rivers and creeks rose toward record levels, threatening flash flooding that could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges.
The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence has finally made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.
As of Saturday, about 676,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina, along with 119,000 in SC.
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. Trump plans a visit to the region next week. Mike Doll, Senior Meteorologist at Accuweather said the winds will continue to slow down over the weekend and the main problem moving forward will be flooding due to heavy rains. Rivers will continue to rise days after the rain has stopped, he said.
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. Floyd produced 24 inches of rain in some parts of the state, while Florence has already dumped about 30 inches in areas around Swansboro.