As Florence churned slowly towards the coasts of North and SC as a Category 2 hurricane, federal and state officials issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the "once in a lifetime" weather system.
Some people, such as Jennie, are refusing to heed evacuation warnings.
A mother and baby were killed after a tree fell on the family's Wilmington, NC house during the storm. The child's injured father was hospitalized.
Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm - but the danger is far from over for residents of the U.S. East Coast. Because when flowing river waters meet the ocean surge, there's really nowhere else for the water to go. The rainfall will cause prolonged significant river flooding. Except - and we don't mean to jinx it - but the storm *is* heading further south from here and the wind did die down a bit so who is to say it didn't work entirely?
Florence is about 644 kilometres wide and it's winds have dropped from a peak of 225 km/h to 165 km/h, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a Category 2. According to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, thirty-thousand people lost power across the state as of 5 PM and that number continues to rise.
"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending", Cooper said. "Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".
Southeastern coastal North Carolina into far northeastern SC could see 20 to 30 inches of rainfall; some isolated areas could see 40 inches.
U.S. Southeast power companies said more than 98,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina, Virginia and SC were without power on Thursday as Hurricane Florence approached the coast.More news: Hurricane Florence: How Bad Will the Flooding Be in Charleston, SC?
About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than a million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia, jamming westbound roads and highways. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday said that Hurricane Florence is likely to affect energy infrastructure throughout the southeastern region of the United States.
In its 0300 GMT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the maximum sustained winds of Florence were 90 miles per hour (150 kilometers per hour), dropping it to the weakest of five categories on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Hurricane Florence brought a storm surge of some 3 meters (10 feet) as it began battering the United States east coast early on Friday.
Florence's top winds were clocked on Thursday evening at 90 miles per hour (150 km/h) as it churned in the Atlantic Ocean, down from a peak of 140 miles per hour (224 km/h) earlier this week when it was classified as a Category 4 storm before being downgraded.
"Just because the wind speed came down, the intensity of this storm came down. please do not let your guard down", said Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), earlier on Thursday.
As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.
Utility companies are predicting power outages that could reach between one-to-three million across both North and SC for days and possibly weeks. "And you don't need power to sling booze", said owner Eli Ellsworth.