The figure included a woman and her baby killed when a tree fell on their house. The child's father was taken to a hospital.
U.S. media later said a man in Lenoir County died after heavy winds knocked him down as he tried to check on his dogs. In the state´s Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.
Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line. But Florence, a Category 1 when it hit, already had pounded coastal areas for hours.
The 400-mile-wide hurricane has already splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast.
Householders were stranded in their cars, attics and on rooftops.
"It has slowed", he said. "We're going to have to redo the whole inside". The National Hurricane Center says Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast.
Kevin Knox carries gas and a generator after being rescued from his flooded neighborhood from the effects of Florence, now a tropical storm, in New Bern, North Carolina, on September 15, 2018. Rescue crews used boats to carry more than 360 people from rising water, while many of their neighbors awaited help.
Power outages increased throughout Friday.
The rest of SC into western North Carolina and southwest Virginia is expected to report 5 to 10 inches of additional rainfall, with isolated cases of 15 inches.
In a separate briefing, Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said some areas have already received two feet of rain and could expect up to 20 inches more as the system moved "slowly, almost stationary" over eastern North Carolina.
The Triangle is under a flash flood warning until 8 p.m. Sunday.
At a briefing, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the risk of fatality will only grow when people venture out once the winds die down. He urged residents to stay inside and not get in the way of emergency workers.
Government aid can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-priced loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of Hurricane Florence.
"It costs to leave", Glover, who also founded the environmental justice organization Sol Nation, continued.
Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as 10 feet. Flooding also hit the Bogue Sound near Beaufort, the Pungo River at Belhaven and the Pamlico River at Washington.
He said flooding will continue for days and the full magnitude of the hurricane is unknown. "For overall damage, it would be hard, at the end of the day, I think, to find a rival for this storm".
Tornadoes remain a threat, with the NHC saying that "a few tornadoes are possible in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern SC".
About 20,000 people hunkered down in 157 schools, shelters and a coliseum in Winston-Salem.
Others who chose to stay at home perhaps regretted their decision.
In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River left 500 people in peril. Additional swiftwater rescue teams were on the way.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted around 2:30 a.m.
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