A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence. He said parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges - the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane - as high as 10 feet.
Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 1.
Cooper said Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days".
But the hurricane had slowed to a crawl as it traced the North Carolina-South Carolina shoreline, drenching coastal communities for hours on end.
"We want people to know they have a place, have a roof over their heads", Langley said.
The bulk of the three media briefings held by police chief Dan House surrounded how they were still anticipating the serious and catastrophic storm surge as well as hurricane force winds.
The effects of Hurricane Florence can already be felt along the coast of North Carolina as of 12 p.m. on September 13.
"This storm will bring destruction", said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. It's expected to move slowly over eastern SC on Friday night through Saturday night.
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Shaken after seeing waves crashing in the Neuse River just outside his house in the town of New Bern, hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.
Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.
So far, a state of emergency has been declared in five states - South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland and Washington DC. Through Sunday evening, more than 20 inches of rain could fall in southeast North Carolina and far northeast SC on top of what has already fallen.
A warming climate also means that the atmosphere can hold more and more water vapor, fueling hurricanes with even more water that can fall on coastal areas.
As Hurricane Florence barreled into the shores of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., early Friday, Americans braced for destruction that will effectively shut down daily life across the Southeastern United States in the coming days.
Around midday, Spanish moss blew sideways in the trees as the winds increased in Wilmington, and floating docks bounced atop swells at Morehead City.
Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan reported Friday afternoon in extreme wind and rain from Hurricane Florence in North Topsail Beach, North Carolina, which is bearing the brunt of the storm's impact.
As of 3 a.m., Florence hadn't moved and was still centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. But the center is still warning of life-threatening storm surges, with as much as 11 feet of ocean water expected to cover the North Carolina coast at some seaside locations.