Hurricane Florence, weakened but still unsafe, has 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.
As North Carolina residents began to feel the first modest effects of a weakened Hurricane Florence on Thursday, forecasters warned the powerful storm will bring seawater surging onto land and torrential downpours.
The father was injured in the incident and was transported to a hospital, officials said. Another woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.
"We knew this was going to be a big storm, but it is going to be of epic proportions", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference in Raleigh.
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 sea water.
Storm surge of up to 13 feet will be "life threatening" and rainfall of up to 40 inches will mean "catastrophic" flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Storm surge, torrential rain and high winds over up to 90 miles per hour are stretching for hundreds of miles from the Outer Banks into SC.
By Friday evening, the centre of the storm had moved to eastern SC, with maximum sustained winds of 70 miles per hour.
Millions of people are expected to lose power and it could take weeks to resolve the outages.More news: [Newsmaker] 'Threat becomes reality': Florence begins days of rain, wind
More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out. The downtown area was underwater.Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and tide rolled in, city public information officer Colleen Roberts said.
When all is said and done, Florence could dump 18 trillion gallons along its path, according to meteorologist Ryan Maue.
Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to three-quarters of a million homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend.
Video taken in several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through thigh-high water.
He said "24 to 36 hours remain for significant threats" from heavy rain, storm surge and flooding.
"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", he said.
More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse.
"I'm anxious about what I might find when I go home, though", she said.