The Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina yesterday began to flow over its banks, triggering flooding as waters continued to rise from torrential rainfall. On the morning of September 14, the National Hurricane Centre warned that "catastrophic" flooding and "life-threatening" storm surges were expected to spread inland.
States of emergency have already been declared in both North and SC.
Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Although Florence is slowing, authorities warn the destruction that has already occurred is expected to get worse.
As the climate warms, the way air moves through the atmosphere can become disrupted, possibly blocking these types of storms in place more often.
The Wilmington Police Department said Friday that the two were killed when a tree fell on their house.
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference that whole communities "could be wiped away".
In the besieged city of New Bern, rescuers had plucked more than 200 people from rising waters by midmorning, but about 150 more had to wait as conditions worsened and a storm surge reached 10 feet, officials said. The record was set by Hurricane Helene in 1958 with 135 miles per hour.
The No. 1 mission right now, Cooper said, is to save lives.
Power outages have hit the Charlotte area as Tropical Storm Florence makes its way across the Carolinas.
Tom Balance, owner of a seafood restaurant in New Bern, had decided against evacuating his home and was soon alarmed to see waves coming off the Neuse and the water getting higher and higher. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces".
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.
One person died at a shelter in Brunswick County Thursday morning, according to a spokesperson for the county.
At the Wilmington airport, the wind was measured at 105 miles per hour - the highest since 1958, Cooper said. It will likely weaken more on Friday, with "rapid weakening forecast over the weekend", the hurricane center said. Rainfall of up to 20 to 40 inches could fall over the next five days in some areas, forecasters say.
Florence is expected to dump several feet of rain on the Carolinas as she makes a slow push inland over the next few days.
A fatal collision on Saturday morning left two injured and one dead in Georgetown County, SC.
Duke Energy reported about 6,200 customers were without power in the Charlotte area by 2:30 p.m. Saturday.