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 storm was blamed for almost 3,000 deaths in the desperate aftermath.
Two people died in Wilmington after a tree fell on their house, the city's police department said.
Authorities have confirmed those storm-related deaths, including a mother and her infant child who died after a tree fell on their home in New Hanover County, where the storm hit Friday morning with a 105 miles per hour wind gust, the strongest wind in the city since 1958. The father received injuries and were hospitalized for medical care.
"With having five kids and my husband's stuck at work on standby for his job at the hospital it was just easier for us to stay at our home where we have all of our things", she said. When they got to the home, the woman was deceased, Chad McEwen, assistant county manager for Pender County, said.
The Piedmont Triad has been on high alert since Hurricane Florence made landfall on the North Carolina coast Friday morning.
"The shelters are not taking dogs", Ramirez said.
"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", said Ballance, owner of a seafood restaurant that was flooded. "We are stuck in the attic".
Video footage showed parking lots in the riverfront town of New Bern turn into shallow lakes of dirty gray water as heavy rain fell.
Swift-water rescue teams from out of state helped local rescuers evacuate people whenever conditions allowed.
"Currently ~150 awaiting rescue in New Bern", City Hall said on Twitter.
With winds picking up along the coastline earlier Thursday, federal and state officials had issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" weather system. But there were times she thought they wouldn't survive, she told CNN.
"I have no generator", said Petra Langston, a nurse.
More than 30 inches of rain have fallen in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
As of 1 p.m. EDT, Florence is weakening as it moves farther inland over southeastern North Carolina.
The authorities of the States of Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and the nation's capital of Washington, in the direction which moves the "Florence", has introduced a state of emergency.