Mother, infant, among several killed by Hurricane Florence

Forecasters warn of "life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding".

Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 miles per hour (110 kph), and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 miles per hour (6 kph).

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 ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.

"We know we're in for a long haul here", Cooper said of predictions that the storm will linger over the area.

Florence remains a Category 1 storm, and it's spinning hurricane-force winds up to 70 miles from its center.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 280 kilometres from its center. TV station WNCN said the 78-year-old victim and was "trying to connect two extension cords outside in the rain".

A man electrocuted while plugging in a generator during a heavy rain and another knocked down by wind were among the other casualties reported from the monster storm lashing the Southeast.

The water "is as high as it's ever been, and waves are breaking on my point, which is normally grass", said Copeland, a freelance photographer for The Associated Press.

It is expected to move across parts of south-eastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.

"I've been through hurricanes before", he says.

The No. 1 mission right now, Cooper said, is to save lives.

Putting the enormity of Hurricane Florence into perspective
On Thursday morning, South 17th Street, usually teeming with commuter traffic by 6:30 a.m., was almost devoid of cars. But the storm still carried "very unsafe winds", the Center added. "It's something we haven't seen. ever".

Residents at Trent Court Apartments wait out the weather as rising water gets closer to their doors in New Bern, North Carolina.

"Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other unsafe conditions", the hurricane center briefing said. "This will be one of the worst storm surge events likely in North Carolina's history".

At 5 p.m., Florence was centered about 50 miles (75 kilometers) west-southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 25 miles (45 kilometers) northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In New Bern, Sarah Risty-Davis is one of the residents who opted not to follow a mandatory evacuation order that was issued three days ago. "We are going to be very very very limited in terms of responding".

New Bern city officials took to Twitter saying: "WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU". The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces". At the city's airport, the wind was gusting at 91 miles per hour.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., around 7:15 a.m. ET Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center said.

U.S. Southeast power companies said almost 440,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and SC were without power on Friday as Hurricane Florence hit the coast. Roberts says the storm surge continues to increase as Florence passes over the area.

"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management.

The path of Florence will make the unsafe weather conditions last for days, as it has slowed down upon reaching land.

By 2 p.m. Saturday, the storm won't even be halfway across SC, forecasters say. That advisory came out on August 30, when Florence was developing near the Cabo Verde Islands across the Atlantic.

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