Authorities have confirmed those storm-related deaths, including a mother and her infant child who died after a tree fell on their home in New Hanover County, where the storm hit Friday morning with a 105 miles per hour wind gust, the strongest wind in the city since 1958.
Florence "is twice the size of Hurricane Hugo", which tore through the Carolinas in 1989, New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told "GMA".
Tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 175 miles from the center of the storm.
Storm surges of up to six feet were forecast for Belhaven, North Carolina, where this video was recorded on the night of September 13. As forecasters warned the hurricane could lead to potentially catastrophic flooding.
In the town of New Bern, 30,000 residents stayed behind in spite of mandatory evacuation orders.
WILMINGTON - Blowing ashore with howling 90 miles per hour winds, Hurricane Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster.
Gov. Cooper said Friday, "As soon as it is safe, first responders will make sure they go and rescue people who need to be saved from this storm".
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of the state in several feet of water.
A 78-year-old man was electrocuted at a home on Silver Smith Circle in Kinston early Friday morning while trying to connect two extension cords outside in the rain.
The centre of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7:15am (local time) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 150kph, the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said. In North and SC was energized more than 620 thousand households.
Tornadoes are also possible in the eastern North Carolina area according to the NHC, as wind and rain impact land. The storm is moving at a crawling speed - just 3 miles per hour. River flooding may be worse than Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
"We've rescued over 100 people in New Bern, NC; people from Jacksonville, NC, had to be rescued from a hotel", Cooper said, describing efforts to save residents north of Wilmington, where high floods have already hit.
More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.