Gusts reached over 100 miles per hour - the highest recorded in North Carolina since 1958.
The Governor urged residents and travellers to avoid driving throughout the state because most roads are still at risk of major flooding as rain continues to hammer down.
Zooming out to the full projection, shown above, the core of the storm is slated to enter North Carolina around 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
"Many people who think that the storm has missed them have yet to see its threat", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.
This storm is relentless and excruciating.
There were 974,000 homes in the Carolinas without power on Saturday morning.
More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. He said the gust was the strongest recorded in Wilmington since 1958.
On Saturday morning, the 563-km-wide storm was strolling along at 3.2kmh, unleashing drenching downpours in eastern SC. He said five deaths were confirmed from the storm and "several others are under investigation".
"The fact that there haven't been more deaths and damage is awesome and a blessing", said Rebekah Roth, walking around Wilmington's Winoca Terrace neighborhood. The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, population 200,000.
"Please be safe and be smart and use your common sense", Cooper added.
On Thursday, Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 193 kmph winds. It was downgraded to Category 1 before coming ashore on Friday near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina.
Russ Lewis covers his eyes from a gust of wind and a blast of sand as Hurricane Florence approaches Myrtle Beach, S.C., on September 14, 2018.
4 dead as Hurricane Florence drenches the Carolinas
People in the Carolinas had the daytime hours Thursday to complete their final preparations to ride out or escape the storm. At least 12,000 people had taken refuge in 126 emergency shelters, Governor Cooper said, with more facilities being opened.
At least six people have died so far as tropical storm Florence continues crawling westward.
A mother and her infant are dead after a tree fell on their house in Wilmington. The child's father was taken to a hospital.
The storm was also a factor in the death of a woman who suffered a heart attack since emergency crews couldn't reach her due to a fallen tree, as The Wall Street Journalreported. Then, once the remnants of the tempest reach the higher terrain of the southern Appalachians, flash floods, mudslides and debris flows.
In Kinston, a city southeast of Raleigh, two people died in the storm. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man died when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.
That's how hard the wind gusted in North Carolina's New River inlet.
Officials in New Bern said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.
Rescuers are working hastily to save those caught in rising flood waters as thousands of people living near North Carolina's rising rivers were ordered to evacuate Saturday.
Eudy said his family stayed in their home partly to protect their house. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit.
USA correspondent Cordelia Lynch, who is in New Bern, said: "This community in the weeks and months to come is up against a great deal of flooding".
An alligator chose to ride out Florence in a neighborhood in SC.
Duke said it had more than 20,000 personnel ready to start fixing outages as soon as conditions allowed, including more than 8,000 from Duke's Carolinas utilities, 1,700 from the Midwest, 1,200 from Florida and 9,400 from other utilities.
The White House said President Donald Trump approved making federal funding available in some affected counties. Trump, who spoke with state and local officials on Friday, plans a visit to the region next week.