Forecasters warn of "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding".
"I had a lot of fear initially but I'm glad to be inside and safe", said Zelda Allen, 74, a retired tax accountant from Hampstead, North Carolina, who was riding out the storm at Wilmington's Hotel Ballast with her husband. "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was", he said. The slow-moving, hurricane - downgraded to a tropical storm around 5 p.m. Friday - is expected to linger over the area this weekend continuing to create a risky situation.
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center.
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.
Regarding the possibility of a storm surge, Jones said, "Everyone has to be on the lookout for that, however, the way our house sits, it's elevated". As Cooper said, "There's nowhere for the water to go".
Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did.
As of Friday morning, Atlantic Beach, a town on North Carolina's Outer Banks barrier island chain, had already received 76cm of rain, the US Geological Service said.
"And it's just a Category 1 hurricane", Tarr said.
The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.
NEW BERN OVERWHELMEDIn New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge "overwhelmed" the town, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said.
Florence's eyewall reached shore near Wilmington, N.C., just before 6 a.m. ET Friday; more than an hour later, the National Hurricane Center announced, it had "finally" made landfall near Wrightsville Beach.
By Friday evening, the centre of the storm had moved to eastern SC, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour.
Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.
Tom Balance, owner of a seafood restaurant in New Bern, had decided against evacuating his home and was soon alarmed to see waves coming off the Neuse and the water getting higher and higher. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said.
Over 1,400 flights have been cancelled, according to FlightAware.com, as most of the coastal region's airports are closed to ride out the storm. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces". The storm's winds, however, fell to 75 miles per hour by 1:50 p.m.
Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend.
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.
These types of slow-moving storms - like Hurricane Harvey - can be particularly unsafe because of the rain and flooding they can bring.
"More people die from storm surge than any proponent of hurricanes", Kottlowsk tells TIME.
Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.
After creeping inland, Florence is expected to head west before looping up toward Tennessee and Kentucky early next week.
Rescue helicopters and trucks that can navigate floodwaters are also standing by. Thousands of soldiers from their National Guard forces have been mobilized.
While many sought shelter - about 26,000 people took refuge in 100 shelters and at the 14,000-seat Joel Colisseum in Winston-Salem - others ignored warnings or headed to nearby hotels.
The storm's movement, not its strength, has forecasters and officials anxious.
As of 3 a.m., Florence hadn't moved and was still centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.
All players on worldwide duty last week returned in good health and are available for selection, Arsenal said. The Arsenal player is in his sixth season in the Premier League and remains a starter for the Gunners.
Leonel Rondon, 18, and two of his friends were in the vehicle when the debris struck, his family told CNN affiliate WHDH . The incident forced National Grid to cut power to all three communities, leaving an estimated 18,000 people in the dark.
Met Éireann said: "Current indications are that (ex-) tropical storm Helene will approach Ireland's south coast during Tuesday". It's not clear if the storm is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane after it hits the eastern Caribbean.
It took Matheson and her husband almost the whole day Monday to drive the 60 miles (100 kilometres) off the barrier island. However, the impacted counties could shift if the storm veers from its current "probable path", says the center.
Bion Stewart, the Coast Guard incident commander for Hurricane Florence . "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave". David Daniels said that between 150 and 200 people were rescued so far, with others still waiting for help.
Marson said they'd lost power and the winds were howling outside, but they had enough food and water to last them for days. Pets and livestock aren't the only animals being threatened by the hurricane; zoo animals are also at risk.
Belieb it or not, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin have reportedly married, two months after getting engaged. Adding that she can't wait to be Mrs Bieber, "I see no reason to wait", she said of her own decision.
At the end of the 2016/17 season, Terry bid farewell to his club and joined Championship side Aston Villa for a free transfer. Sarri is known as a heavy smoker and said during the global break his father was trying to persuade him to quit.
It extends more than 200 miles further from Alaska's westernmost island and 1,700 miles from Anchorage. A pair of Russian bombers was caught flying in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
If you are a Samsung Galaxy Note fan that always want the latest, here's something worth checking out. It seems pretty likely that this refers to the next Samsung mobile phone having four camera lenses.
Boris: Chuck Chequers, not Theresa May
Once a deal is reached, it has to go to the United Kingdom parliament and the European Parliament for approval. The rift deepened this week with Johnson comparing May's plan to a "suicide vest" on Britain's constitution.
Ariana Grande pays tribute to the late Mac Miller
August 2, 2016. "I am happy for her and [the fact that she's] moving forward with her life, just as I'm sure she is with me". However, Grande responded angrily to a tweet from a fan positing that her breakup with Miller led to his DUI.
The Apple Watch is inching toward becoming a medical device
On the camera front, the XR features a single 12-megapixel wide-angle camera on the rear, with the same specifications as the XS. The biggest difference between the XR and the XS is the display - instead of an OLED panel, the XR is relying on an LCD panel.
Apple announces new, affordable iPhone XR
The new Apple Watch 4 will come in 40mm and 44mm screen sizes and will be offered in a choice of three aluminium finishes. With its bezel-less design and curved corners, the 6.5-inch XS Max doesn't feel too big in my hands.