Elsewhere in North Carolina, one person was killed while plugging in a generator, and a man was knocked to the ground while outside and died.
After that, Florence is forecast to move northwest and north and move across western SC on Sunday, Sept. 15, and across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on Monday, Sept. 16, the NHC said. "The storm is wreaking havoc on our state".
The White House said Friday U.S. President Donald Trump will travel to areas hit by Hurricane Florence next week, once it has been determined that his travel would not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm will travel through the SC upstate, be downgraded to a tropical depression then turn north toward Ohio.
Other factors - such as blocking patterns - which some believe are responsible for stalling hurricanes before they make landfall, aren't properly measured by the climate models, Mann said.
In New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000 which is located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.
A North Carolina city situated between two rivers says it has around 150 people waiting to be rescued from rising flood waters from Hurricane Florence.
"What happens is that we rescue some people and then we find out there are still more who need it", he said.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and into the northeastern coast of SC in spots.
Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.
A warming climate also means that the atmosphere can hold more and more water vapor, fueling hurricanes with even more water that can fall on coastal areas.
"Some of the rainfall totals we're getting are already adding up to about 14 inches", NHC Director Ken Graham said shortly after 11 a.m. ET.
That's not to say the dangers of Hurricane Florence aren't serious.
Utility officials say almost 900,000 homes and businesses were without power in the Carolinas on Friday and more were expected to lose power.
This story was compiled from McClatchy papers in North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer; and in South Carolina, The State in Columbia, the Beaufort Gazette, The Island Packet in Hilton Head and The Sun News in Myrtle Beach; and supplemented with wire service reports.
Many counties in southern North Carolina remain under a tornado watch until 7 a.m.
Just after midnight, the station tweeted that everyone had safely evacuated. "I wonder how it would have been with a Category 4 or 5". Hundreds have been rescued from their homes.
"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending", Cooper said. "But there are a lot of big trees around so we preferred to spend the night at a friend´s to be sure. We're out of power, so we spent the first few hours of the day playing board games with candles".