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.
Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 miles per hour, and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 miles per hour.
The bulk of the three media briefings held by police chief Dan House surrounded how they were still anticipating the serious and catastrophic storm surge as well as hurricane force winds.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence came ashore near the town of Wrightsville Beach, almost 10 kilometers east of the city of Wilmington, and is now inland near Cape Fear packing sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour with higher gusts.
"We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later cancelled.
Roads and intersections on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier islands were inundated.
The center of the storm is expected to make landfall near Wilmington between 8 a.m. and noon. The city said two FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more were on the way. Gradual weakening is expected throughout the day Friday, with significant weakening predicted over the weekend.
Over 645,000 power outages were reported Friday morning.
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Hurricane Florence brings flooding and blackouts
Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington , and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City. Friday when he was "blown down by the wind" while tending dogs. "We're estimating we've rescued 150-200", New Bern Police Lt.
More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center briefing said.
Under the program, which runs to September 25, 2018, customers at Southeaster Grocers' Bi-Lo, Winn-Dixie, Harveys and Fresco y Más supermarkets can make financial donations at checkout to support Hurricane Florence relief and recovery efforts by the American Red Cross.
"Heavy rain has been occurring in and around Oriental, North Carolina, where 20.37 inches of rainfall has been measured thus far", the National Hurricane Center said in an update.
They were the first known deaths attributed to Tropical Storm Florence, which was a Category 1 hurricane when it struck the city.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been forced to evacuate as Hurricane Florence battered the eastern coast of the USA, including more than 3,000 prisoners who have been relocated from jails in the path of Florence.
Baker said the rain will bring damaging flash flooding to all areas of the Wilmington region, not just low-lying areas that are particularly vulnerable.
Downed trees, branches on the hurricane-lashed streets of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Still, he said: "I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth". "We are totally prepared", Trump said at the White House.