Record water levels occurred at Wrightsville Beach, said NOAA's Ocean Service, which reported the ocean "reached reached 4.11 ft above high tide, breaking a record set by Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 by more than a foot".
The storm's first casualties, which included a mother and her baby killed when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina, were announced about eight hours after Florence came ashore. The child's injured father was taken to hospital.
"So I'm going to have to wait until the rain stops". Local media said she had suffered a heart attack.
The first victims of hurricane Florence struck the coast of the US state of North Carolina, were two people.
As she sat in the hotel lobby eating a cold breakfast of bananas, cereal bars, and pastries, she recalled that the decision to heed the mandatory evacuation order for her area wasn't hard.
And that's when people found themselves trapped in their homes as the water rose. Ballance called the rainfall "biblical", saying he's gotten reports from friends that his downtown seafood restaurant was flooded, just like the rest of the small city's historic downtown, and he's anxious about the hundreds of people who needed to be rescued overnight in the city. By late afternoon, Beaufort County Manager Brian Alligood hoped the worst was over. "It came in slowly but then it just steady, just kept rising", Annazette Riley-Cromartie said. "We have started to see the water recede".
Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water.
Reilly sells real estate in the Charleston area has seen his share of storms over the past two decades, including Tropical Storm Gaston in 2004 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometres) from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds reached out 195 miles (315 kilometres).
By early afternoon, Florence's winds had weakened to 75mph, just barely a hurricane and well below the storm's terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week.
More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury. "Trees are blowing down in the wind".
The area is also experiencing some power outages. Officials did not know his condition as of 3:30 p.m. Friday.
As it moves inland, the storm is expected to bring its high winds and intense rain bands across the southeastern corner of North Carolina and a large chunk of SC.
Emergency workers arrived to find the Triangle Motor Inn's structure crumbling, with many guests still in their rooms.
New Bern Police Lt. David Daniels said early Friday morning that between 150 and 200 people had been rescued so far, with others still waiting for help. "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave".
Olson said her home was likely to flood. "I was born and raised here and been through every storm the last 30 years, but this one seems to be doing more damage than we expected".
Emergency crews were stretched thin.
Roads are particularly bad in Pamlico and Craven counties, with major and secondary roads flooded, according to Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon.
"Rescue workers are working in risky conditions that will only get worse today", he said.
Governor Roy Cooper called the rainfall an event that comes along only once every 1,000 years.
The storm is nearly at a standstill over southeastern North Carolina. He added that there would be no mercy for those who try to steal from others' homes during the storm. One team from Maryland helped with about 40 rescues in New Bern starting Thursday, member Mitchell Rusland said.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city tweeted around 2 a.m. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the authorities in New Bern said on Twitter.