A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington. The father was pulled from the home and transported to a local hospital with injuries, police said.
Four deaths were confirmed by officials as American media reported another, and the storm has wreaked havoc in the Carolinas, lashing the U.S. states with torrential rain and causing rivers to burst their banks.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds its way across land. "Surviving this storm with be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".
Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm later, its winds weakened to 60 mph (95 kph) as it moved forward at 5 mph (7 kph) about 15 miles (25 kilometers) west northwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
"Hurricanes normally come in and they go inland, which sucks the power out of them as they go over the land", he said. "This one is set to linger right where it is for at least 48 hours".
The video clip posted to Twitter appeared to mock the reporter's hurricane coverage, suggesting he was exaggerating the storm's force. Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm and further downgraded to a tropic storm on Friday evening.
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The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.
"[It's] very eerie, the wind howling, the rain blowing sideways, debris flying", Orsa, who lives nearby and fears splintering trees will pummel her house, told The Associated Press. Winds knocked down trees all over. "Nothing's hit the house yet, but it's still blowing".
At the time, the storm carried winds of about 90 miles per hour (145 km/h), making it a Category 1 storm, but that ranking belies the hurricane's massive clouds and the downpour it is visiting on the coastline, with some areas already drenched in 30 inches (76 centimeters) of rain.
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 cost to SC, if that happens, if the storm continues the way it is going, could be in the billions", Dahler said.
WXII-TV reports the city of New Bern said Friday that two out-of-state FEMA teams were working on swift-water rescues and more teams were on the way.
The Weather Channel voiced support for one of its reporters on Friday after a video of him reporting during Hurricane Florence went viral online.
Officials in several states have declared states of emergency, including in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, where coastal areas are still recovering from summer storms.