Rains are expected to be quite a real hazard from the storm, as it will have a slow movement towards SC before it turns north. The flooding began on barrier islands in North Carolina and then spread into coastal and river communities there and in SC, swamping the white sands and golf courses in North Myrtle Beach. It was crawling west-southwest at 3 miles per hour, lifting huge amounts of ocean moisture and dumping it far from the coast.
The NHC said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as Florence neared shore and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the heavy rain could trigger landslides in the west of his state.
Will Epperson, a 36-year-old golf course assistant superintendent, said he and his wife had planned to ride out the storm at their home in Hampstead, North Carolina, but then reconsidered.
The storm made landfall earlier on Friday just outside Wilmington, bringing life-threatening storm surge and hurricane force winds.
Its forward movement increased slightly to 9 km/h as hurricane-force winds extended 150 kilometers from its center along with tropical-storm-force winds up to 315 kilometers.
More than 60 people were trapped in a collapsing hotel in North Carolina.
It is expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.
Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing.
Key warnings published by the NHC at 5 a.m. EDT on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.
Annazette Riley-Cromartie said she and her family thought they'd be safe in their brick house in eastern North Carolina.
Ocean City Prepares for Impacts of Hurricane Florence
The ocean is moving inland ahead of Florence as storm surge begins to flood the Carolinas coast, according to the NHC. While Hurricane Florence pounds North Carolina, another tropical storm is on track to reach Britain early next week.
Duke Energy Corp, the area's biggest utility with more than 4 million customers, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million and 3 million outages. Some scattered showers and storms will be possible on Sunday, but rainfall totals should not go over one inch.
"We're on our way, we will get you rescued", Outlaw said while cautioning that first responders have to be careful of their own safety.
Watch more above, and stay with Fox News Channel for Hurricane Florence coverage. It's about 90 miles northeast of Wrightsville Beach, where Florence made landfall at 7:15 a.m. Friday.
Emergency workers went door to door urging people to flee Florence's rising waters and used inflatable boats to rescue others as the storm practically parked itself over land and poured on the rain Saturday, raising fears that North Carolina could be in for the most disastrous flooding in its history.
"And when the tide comes back up around noon, we will be inundated with additional storm surge", she said.
Pushed in a storm surge of 10 feet above normal levels in Morehead City, North Carolina, the National Weather Service said.
As of noon, Swansboro, North Carolina, had almost 31 inches of rain, Emerald Isle had over 23, and Wilmington and Goldsboro had about a foot.
At 9 a.m. the center of the hurricane was about 55 miles east of Myrtle Beach. Its forward movement was 6 miles per hour (9 kph).
Rescue workers are scrambling to rescue 150 people trapped by rising flood waters in the coastal city of New Bern, North Carolina.
According to City of Wilmington Spokeswoman Malissa Talbert, "As the wind increases from Hurricane Florence, City of Wilmington officials continue to strongly encourage residents to remain inside and do not drive".
"Heavy rains and high winds are likely to spread across North Carolina and linger for days", Gov. Roy Cooper said at a news conference.