South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster asked people to remain patient during a last-minute news conference before Hurricane Florence begins to impact the state.
The enormous storm crept at a 6 miles per hour pace, making it clear that the trouble was just beginning.
It has trapped people in flooded homes, with citizen swift-water rescue teams from out of state joining local emergency professionals around the clock to try and bring them to safety. People were stuck in their cars, attics and rooftops, waiting for rescuers in boats. Rescue workers were able only to save her father.
The storm roared ashore under the cover of darkness, pummeling the region with pounding rain, widespread flooding and catastrophic winds. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire. "We have started to see the water recede".
Several more days of rain are expected as Florence, now a tropical storm, hovers over the Carolinas.
But the size of the storm meant the path didn't really matter.
Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) but authorities warned the danger was far from over, predicting that "life-threatening storm surges and strong winds" would persist through the night.
Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds on Thursday.
"Florence is here to stay for awhile", McMaster said from Columbia Friday afternoon.
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Wilmington Police reported on Twitter that a tree fell on a house on Mercer Avenue, killing the pair around 9:30 a.m.
North Carolina utilities have estimated that as many as 2.5 million state residents could be left without power, the state's Department of Public Safety said.
Two people also died in Harkers Island, North Carolina, on Friday, Carteret County Director of Emergency Services Stephen Rea said Saturday.
Entire communities could be "wiped away" by historic flooding, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday. NY emergency workers reported rescuing elderly residents at a New River retirement community.
"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", Cooper said. "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave".
CORRECTING TYPO IN CITY NAME Leaves, branches and other debris surround and cover a vehicle during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018. In Belhaven, the rising Pungo River almost swallowed the firstfloor of a house.
Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill - sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain.
Tinder users are reportedly searching for love through the worst of the storm. Areas from Wilmington through Fayetteville to Charlotte will experience 500-year to 1,000-year flood events, he said. Few people had ventured out - most were heeding warnings from officials to stay inside. The National Hurricane Centre in Miami says the core of Florence was located at 11pm Friday about 20 kilometres west-northwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.
Others who chose to stay at home perhaps regretted their decision.
New Bern, N.C., quickly became a trouble spot as floodwaters rose.
At least 4 dead as Florence downgraded to Tropical Storm
Hundreds of people had to be rescued in New Bern, North Carolina, as they called for help overnight, city officials said. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of up to 21 miles per hour (34 kph) on Friday morning in Columbia.
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Threat becomes reality as Hurricane Florence closes in
The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions. The impact of storm surge on the coast will depend on whether the storm's arrival coincides with high tide.