The National Hurricane Center said in an advisory Thursday night that a storm surge of 10 feet above normal level had already been reported by the National Weather Service office in Morehead City, N.C. Rainfall of up to 40 inches could occur in isolated areas of North and SC.
Charleston, S.C., could see more water than it did during last year's Tropical Storm Irma if the hurricane stalls as it hits land and pushes additional water onto the coast. It is now at Category 1.
The flooding soon spread into SC, swamping places like North Myrtle Beach, in a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.
Hurricane-force winds began whipping North Carolina as federal emergency management officials warned that the hurricane remained a "very risky storm" capable of wreaking havoc along a wide swathe of the coast. And when a storm surge reaches 13 feet and results in severe coastal flooding, people near the Atlantic Ocean can drown very quickly.
Trump, who spoke with state and local officials on Friday, plans a visit to the region next week.
Although Florence has been downgraded from a category four to a category two storm, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent".More news: At Least 5 Dead from Hurricane Florence
Curfews being imposed by Conway, North Myrtle Beach and Horry County, which includes all unincorporated areas of the county, are in effect from 7 p.m.to 7 a.m. beginning Thursday and continuing until further notice.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images A man tries to cross the street during the heavy rain of outer bands of Hurricane Florence in New Bern, North Carolina.
North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters), enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).
"Now we just have to figure out how to get hot coffee", said Mary Holland, standing on the porch of her home that was built in 1889. "We just bought a new house so I'm kinda nervous".
Hurricane Florence made its swipe at Wilmington Friday, cutting power to thousands and priming eastern North Carolina for major flooding in the days ahead.
The public started reporting scattered power outages as early as Wednesday afternoon, when the first gusts of Florence buffeted the state, and the numbers have climbed sharply as the storm worked its way through North Carolina. Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers). Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches (one meter) of rain, forecasters said.
"What we've seen as far as people actually evacuating, just from monitoring evacuation routes, seems there's been a pretty light amount of people evacuating", Ms. Norton said.More news: Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin spotted at the marriage bureau
Hurricane Florence's path could affect the homes of more than 5 million people, and more than 1 million of them have been ordered to evacuate.
A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia and the USA capital Washington. "And I can not stress enough the importance of adhering to the governor's orders for mandatory evacuation".
Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the storm with his dog Canelo. "I've never been one to leave for a storm, but this one kind of had me spooked".
Garden City Fire District Chief Norman Knight told Murrells Inlet residents on Thursday that it was still not too late to leave.
"I end up hearing more negative stories about leaving than staying", Mrs. Mramer said.
Perched on the porch of his home, carpenter Tony Albright was calmly awaiting Florence's arrival, beer in hand.
"But I'm not afraid", he said. "The only thing missing in there is a hot lady". "I charged the batteries of my electronic devices, I have beers and video games".More news: Here's The Text Message That Got '60 Minutes' Boss Fired