At least four people have died, and authorities fear the toll will go higher as the tropical storm crawls westward Saturday across SC.
The dead included a mother and baby killed by a falling tree in Wilmington, North Carolina.
CNN also reported a man and a woman died in South Carolina's Horry County due to carbon monoxide poisoning. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man died when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC, as well as up to 10 inches (25 cm) in southwestern Virginia. Wilmington International Airport and Fort Macon suffered gusts of 105 miles per hour, the National Weather Service said.
Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 190kmh winds on Thursday.
Life-threatening, catastrophic flash floods and prolonged significant river flooding are possible in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and the southern to central Appalachias to western North Carolina to west-central Virginia and far-eastern West Virginia into early next week, the National Weather Service said.
Even if you live 150 miles out from the center of Florence, you could still feel tropical-storm-force winds - which are 39 mph or greater.
Water from the Neuse river floods the houses during the pass of Hurricane Florence the town of New Bern, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018.
Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown area was under water by Friday afternoon.
Spanish moss waved in the trees as the winds picked up in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.
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Charley English of the American Red Cross said anyone wondering how to help from afar can donate blood, registering first at their local Red Cross websites. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they are seeing the floodwaters rise".
Eudy said his family stayed in their home partly to protect their house.
About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians have been deployed, with high-water vehicles, helicopters, and boats.
Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, could also be in for heavy rains as Florence plods inland.
Kevin Knox and his family were rescued by boat from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sgt. Johan Mackie, whose team used a phone app to locate people in distress. Numerous evacuees took their pets.
"My No. 1 responsibility as a coach is to protect our players and that's what we're trying to do", Montgomery said.
The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties. Trump planned a visit to the region next week.
Along with this projection, NHC warned of "life-threatening" storm surges and floods throughout both North Carolina and SC.
"Unfortunately, Duke Energy has spent years lobbying and litigating and still has not removed the coal ash from its risky riverfront pits in the coastal area, some of which are in the floodplain", said Frank Holleman, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center who has battled the company in court.
The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday (September 15), then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said. Hurricane Matthew sent more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water into their home in 2016, and the couple feared Florence would run them out again. "More and more inland counties are issuing mandatory evacuations to get people to safety quickly".
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Nationwide, more than 1,245 flights have been cancelled through Friday , according to flight tracking site FlightAware.com. Overall, Florence is approximately400 miles in diameter, according to The Associated Press in a report on September 13.
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CNN reports that the city of New Bern (located where the Nueces and Trent rivers meet) has already seen a storm surge of 10 feet. Expert scientists, however, had said they were anxious about Brunswick because of scant public information about its readiness.
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Emergency officials warned residents that the peril had probably not passed, as the storm continued to dump torrential rain. Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70km/h and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just 6 km/h.
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Cheryl Browning lives with her husband and son, who has terminal cancer, in Richlands, North Carolina. Other residents have told CNN they're not evacuating because emergency shelters won't accept pets.
Chelsea return to domestic action against Cardiff City on Saturday, and Sarri expects a tough game for his returning players. My feeling is that now we are not a very solid team in the defensive phase.
Hurricane-force winds were blowing 80 miles from its centre, and tropical storm force winds reached up to 195 miles from the eye. Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said.
Hurricane Florence: Carolinas brace for life-threatening storm
National Guard marched in and out of a room nearest the main entrance, their camouflage uniforms standing out in the drab room. By Friday evening, Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds weakening to 70 miles per hour as it pushed inland.
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Hurricane Florence , the Category 2 storm heading straight for my parents' SC house, has the country on high alert. Three feet of storm surge moving onto the coastline will result in higher tides and higher water moving onshore.