This is a developing story.
The police chief of a barrier island in Florence's bulls'-eye said he was asking for next-of-kin contact information from the few residents who refused to leave.
Life-threatening storm surge is being reported along the coast of the Carolinas.
On the mainland in New Bern, authorities said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater.
More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate over the past few days, and the homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions. By midnight, Amy Johnson in Belhaven, North Carolina, on the Pungo River posted a video of raging floodwaters that had inundated the first floor of her home. The electricity provider says it began powering down one reactor at the Brunswick plant earlier this morning and would start shutting the second reactor later today. Coastal water has risen 5-feet above sea level near Wilmington and 8-feet above sea level near New Bern according to recorders in tide buoys, which you can track here.
He said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 200 miles out.
Flock said the back end of the storm, when it does arrive, is not expected to be as strong, so the area could avoid catastrophic wind damage and storm surges. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles (135 kilometers) north of Wilmington.
In this September 12, 2018 photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Florence churns over the Atlantic Ocean heading for the USA east coast as seen from the International Space Station.
It is expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.
Fayetteville will see winds up to 60 miles per hour.
So, in case you're wondering how a neighbourhood hit by the hurricane could be impacted, check out this brilliant example of the augmented reality that has left people spellbound. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster. The rest of these states along with southwest Virginia should expect 5 to 10 inches of rain with 15 inches in places. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers.
The storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 miles per hour (135 kph) by nightfall.
The storm could dump 20 to 30 inches of rain along the Carolina coast and up to 12 inches inland.