Hurricane Florence claims first victims as tree kills mum and baby

Scenes from Hurricane Florence making landfall on the United States' east coast

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said during a press briefing Friday morning that the storm is expected to last another 24-36 hours.

The worst of the storm's fury had yet to reach coastal SC, where emergency managers said it was not too late for people to get out.

A gust of 105 miles per hour was recorded at Wilmington airport, surpassing the power of Hurricane Fran two decades ago.

The National Hurricane Center said a gauge north of Wilmington in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, reported 1.92 metres of inundation.

Wilmington police tweeted that the father was transported to the hospital with unspecified injuries.

"In a matter of seconds, my house was flooded up to the waist, and now it is to the chest", said Peggy Perry, who along with three relatives, was trapped early Friday in her New Bern home.

Slow-moving Hurricane Florence made landfall early Friday in North Carolina, bringing punishing winds, heavy rain and record flooding as it crawls southwest along the North and SC coast.

Storm surges, punishing winds and rain are turning some towns into rushing rivers - and the storm is expected to crawl over parts of the Carolinas into the weekend, pounding some of the same areas over and over.

Wrightsville Beach is the closest beach to Wilmington, and about 10 miles from the coast.

A downed tree blocks a street in Wilmington after being uprooted by Florence's strong winds. Six sheriff's officers came to his house to rescue him Friday morning, but he didn't need to leave since the water was dropping by then. 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.

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She estimated 441,000 people have already evacuated because of the storm.

In a display of the early effects of the storm, one flood gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, showed 10 feet (three meters) of flooding, the NHC said.

When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell - and combined with high tide, made for risky flooding.

In addition, the threat of storm surges looms for areas in the path of the storm, meaning life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland is possible.

A city spokeswoman for New Bern, NC, said more than 200 people were rescued from floodwaters Thursday night, and confirmed that 150 more were waiting to be rescued by Friday morning.

"There is still time, but not a lot of time", said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Department of Emergency Management.

In Morehead City, Brooke Kittrell rode out the storm Thursday and Friday with her boyfriend aboard their docked boat, hoping it didn't break loose and slam something.

Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic.

"I have no generator", said Petra Langston, a nurse.

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