Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, battering the state with a powerful combination of wind and rain.
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles (280 kilometers) from its center.
More than 680,000 customers in North Carolina were without power and 21,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state.
The outer bands of Florence are approaching the North Carolina coast, producing the threat of life-threatening storm surge and devastating flooding.
Police in Wilmington, North Carolina, near where the hurricane made landfall, said a mother and her infant were killed when a tree fell on their house. The police department also said in a statement online that a third person - the father - was injured and taken to a hospital.
"But that's not going to be until Monday", Eliasen said". He called the rain an event that comes along only once every 1,000 years.
Some of the worst flooding was in New Bern, North Carolina, a town of about 30,000 people at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers. Another 150, including some trapped in second floors of houses or in attics, awaited rescue. "People don't need to come back and make things more crowded and more hard to ensure safety". "Time is running out.Power will be out for a long time, think about what you need". But officials said at least 140 were still waiting for rescue.
"Things here are very, very serious", he said. Some who couldn't wait waded out on their own. To this point, fallen trees have resulted in more Brunswick closures than flooded roads, and that could continue until the tropical storm winds disappear into the weekend.
Cinder blocks that were part of the structure crumbled in some places, and portions of the roof were missing.
Verizon also is providing mobile hotspots and phones to public safety teams, according to the statement.More news: [Newsmaker] 'Threat becomes reality': Florence begins days of rain, wind
About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians have been deployed, with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.
As of 11 a.m. EDT, Florence was centered about 145 miles (230 kilometers) southeast of Wilmington, its forward movement slowed to 10 mph (17 kph).
Forecasters said Florence's eye could come ashore early Friday around the North Carolina-South Carolina line.
The storm has already had an impact on scores of residents, Cooper said. "In addition to the ongoing, risky storm surge and flash flooding, will be a long-term river flood threat WELL INLAND as very heavy rainfall continues to fall in the coming days"'.
The Governor's Office has activated the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund, which has been used in previous disasters, to accept donations to support North Carolina's response to Hurricane Florence. Wind gusts of 105 miles per hour - the highest recorded since 1958 - were reported in Wilmington Friday morning. Up to 10 feet of storm surge is expected, while some of the inlets can see up to 15 feet.
While thousands chose to flee the coast, others hunkered down.
"It's unsafe, a lot of trees", Charlebois said.
By early afternoon, Florence's winds had weakened to 75 miles per hour, just barely a hurricane and well below the storm's terrifying Category 4 peak of 140 miles per hour earlier in the week. Plus, they'd be there in the morning if first responders needed them.
United States media said a fifth death may have occurred when a man tried to connect two extension cords in the rain.
In the latest advisory the National Hurricane Center said: "The centre of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC later tonight, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and northeastern SC in the hurricane warning area on Friday". Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week.