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Florence's winds in the afternoon were down slightly to 125 miles per hour (205 kph), from a high of 140 miles per hour, and the Category 4 storm fell to a Category 3. CNN showed the scene, a small brick house.
Earlier, he said: "Please hear my message "We can not underestimate this storm".
After landfall, Florence slowed to a pace that meant it would plague the area with days of flooding. Life-threatening storms are expected across large portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states.
Speaking at a news conference, the official said the hurricane was expected to spread out into the Central Appalachian mountains, the Tennessee Valley, and southeastern parts of the United States after Saturday.
Hurricane Florence has more than 10 million people in its crosshairs as the monster storm closes in on the US East Coast with uncertainty over its projected path spreading worry across a widening swathe of the country.
As of 8am local time, it was centred about 170 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and about 220 miles east-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moving north west at 12mph. Its maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly to 110 miles per hour.
Tropical storm-force winds extended 195 miles from Florence's centre, and hurricane-force winds reached out 70 miles.
Then, it will probably hover along the coast on Saturday, pushing up to 13ft of storm surge and dumping 20 to 30 inches of rain on both states, before heading over the Appalachian Mountains. Twenty inches (50 cm) were reported by early Friday afternoon in the town of Oriental.
That system could develop into a tropical depression by Thursday night.
"Against my better judgment, due to emotionalism, I evacuated", he said. "We have two boats and all our worldly possessions", said Susan Patchkofsky, who refused her family's pleas to evacuate and stayed at Emerald Isle with her husband. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they're seeing the floodwaters rise".
Florence also blew down trees, including one that went through the roof of Kevin DiLoreto's home in Wilmington.
"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.
"Afterwards, I'm going to drink a bottle of whiskey and take a two-day nap, but right now I'm walking the neighbourhood and making sure my neighbours are fine, because nobody can get in here".
With South Carolina's beach towns more in the bull's-eye because of the shifting forecast, OH vacationers Chris and Nicole Roland put off their departure from North Myrtle Beach to get the maximum amount of time on the sand. Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.
"Forecasts generally project the storm to make landfall between northern SC and North Carolina's Outer Banks as a strong Category 3 on Thursday, although shifts in the track are possible and storm impacts will expand great distances beyond where landfall occurs". Significant weakening is expected over the weekend.
More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate the coastlines of the Carolinas and Virginia. Most other beachgoers were long done.