Hurricane Florence has weakened somewhat early Thursday as its outer bands approach the North Carolina coast, but weather officials cautioned that the storm will still bring life-threatening conditions.
How many people will it affect?
North Carolina Emergency Management warned residents on Friday to stay indoors, avoid stagnant or moving flood waters and have their emergency kits ready.
New Bern resident Latasha Jones is one of the more fortunate ones. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".
As Florence pounded away, it unloaded heavy rain, flattened trees, chewed up roads and knocked out power to more than a half-million homes and businesses.
Half a million people were left without power today as Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina after battering the coast throughout the night. He called the rain an event that comes along only once every 1,000 years.
A view of Hurricane Florence is shown churning in the Atlantic Ocean in a west, north-westerly direction heading for the eastern coastline of the United States.
There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries.
According to CNN meteorologists, as of early Friday morning, New Bern had already seen more than 10 feet of storm surge and more than 7 inches of rainfall. "And since we're already on high ground, those two things together kind of help insulate us a little more than, I would say, others".
Florence was expected to make landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina, at midday, and forecasters said its size meant it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.
Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland over the next few days as Florence crawls westward across the Carolinas all weekend.
More than 1.7 million people in Virginia, North and SC were told to evacuate ahead of Florence's arrival.
In addition, hurricane-strength winds are predicted to batter everything in the storm's path.
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.
More than 370,000 people were without power in North Carolina early on Friday, state officials said.
"This is an extremely risky and life-threatening situation".
In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.