As of 5 a.m., Florence was 25 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Forecasters say "it can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard posed by the slow-moving storm is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland".
ABC 11 is reporting the first two deaths were the result of a tree falling on a home in Wilmington.
Intensity: Florence came ashore with top winds of 90 miles per hour (145 kph), below the 111 miles per hour (178 kph) threshold for a "major" hurricane but still extremely unsafe.
Hurricane Florence, weakened but still unsafe, crashed into the Carolinas on Friday as a giant, slow-moving storm that stranded residents with floodwaters and swamped part of the town of New Bern at the beginning of what could be a days-long deluge.
Atlantic Beach, located on the state's Outer Banks barrier islands, had received 30 inches (76 cm) of rain, the U.S. Geological Survey said. "(It's) a unsafe situation here", Cooper said.
Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as three metres.
Eighteen people, including two infants, were killed as Florence battered the coast off North and SC on Friday and into the weekend.
Potential losses: estimated $10 billion to $60 billion in economic damages.
The police force of Wilmington, the largest population centre in the impact zone, said via Twitter that a woman and her baby died after a tree fell on their home, while the father was taken to a nearby hospital.
It diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, but forecasters said the 350-mile-wide storm's slow progress across North and SC could leave much of the region under water in the coming days.
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Typhoon Mangkhut slammed into the Philippines, ripping off tin roof sheets and knocking out power in an agricultural region of flood-prone rice plains and landslide-prone mountain provinces. Officials have not said how the fire started, but attributed it to the storm.
Florence may drench the Carolinas with an unthinkable amount of water this weekend: 18 trillion gallons, or enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay.
Florence is expected to dump 18 trillion gallons of rainwater on United States soil, meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted. That's still less than the 25 trillion gallons Hurricane Harvey dropped a year ago in Texas and Louisiana.
"All evacuation orders from local officials should be followed because of this unsafe threat", the Weather Channel said. It also responds to criticism about money diverted from FEMA to federal immigration authorities. It has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, but is not going anywhere fast.
About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm. That count is expected to rise significantly.
Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm and flooding from the heavy rain is forcing hundreds of people to call for emergency rescues.
New Bern touts itself as the second-oldest city in North Carolina.
Scientists can't say - yet - that climate change helped make Florence worse. "For overall damage, it would be hard, at the end of the day, I think, to find a rival for this storm".
Sixteen lagoons flooded under the foot of rain that came with Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
But the size of the storm meant the path didn't really matter.