Wilmington, North Carolina, recorded wind gusts as high as 105 miles per hour, where a mother and her 8-month-old infant were confirmed dead after being crushed when a tree fell onto the house they were in, according to ABC News. The father sustained injuries and was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington for medical care.
Florence "is twice the size of Hurricane Hugo", which tore through the Carolinas in 1989, New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told "GMA".
EMS services could not get to the woman due to the storm, marking the third Florence-related death since the storm began hitting the North Carolina coastline.
Hurricane-force winds extended 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center, and tropical storm-force winds reached out 195 miles (315 kilometers).
The storm surge has already put some communities underwater. As forecasters warned the hurricane could lead to potentially catastrophic flooding.
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.
The Carteret Country Sheriff's Office confirmed that two deaths initially reported as a result of Florence in North Carolina were a result of an apparent murder-suicide. "Hurricane Florence is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days".
In nearby New Bern, where water levels reached at least 10 feet overnight, 150 people requested a rescue.
Here's your sign: Waffle House closed until after Florence
The chain, whose restaurants are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is famous for staying open during many natural disasters. Hurricane Florence has been designated a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour .
Almost 300,000 customers in North Carolina were meanwhile reported to be without power as the outer band of the storm approached.
"The sun rose this morning on an extremely unsafe situation and it's getting worse", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said, calling Florence a "thousand-year rain event". Only one North Carolina is expected to more than 1 meter of rain.
For people living inland in the Carolinas, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest.
More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.
As of 1 p.m. EDT, Florence is weakening as it moves farther inland over southeastern North Carolina.
Tropical Storm Isaac became Tropical Depression Isaac Friday morning.