A woman in Pender County, North Carolina, died from a heart attack after calling emergency services, as paramedics could not reach her because of fallen trees.
Two people died in Lenoir County.
USA media later said a second man in Lenoir County died after heavy winds knocked him down as he tried to check on his dogs. With the storm moving that slow, forecasters are expecting feet of rain instead of inches to be pouring over the Carolinas. It was moving west at 2 miles per hour, the National Weather Service said. Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a Category 1 hurricane before coming ashore.
Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water. Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 miles per hour and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just three miles per hour. NEW BERN OVERWHELMEDIn New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge "overwhelmed" the town, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, Cooper said. One was electrocuted while hooking up a generator and the other while checking on his dogs outside, emergency officials said. "There is probably not a county or a person that will not be affected in some way by this very massive and violent storm". "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they are seeing the floodwaters rise".
"The storm surge alone has overwhelmed the city of New Bern", Cooper said. "And since we're already on high ground, those two things together kind of help insulate us a little more than, I would say, others", she said.
In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River left 500 people in peril. She was trapped in her truck surrounded by rising water Friday as her boyfriend and his cousin were stranded on a paddle boat less than a mile away.
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 unsafe flooding.
There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries but more than 60 people, including many children and pets, had to be evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Collapsed roofs and other structures were reported Friday morning in the Morehead City and New Bern areas of North Carolina.
The White House said on Friday President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help. Trump plans a visit to the region next week. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said.
Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia. "So we made a decision to stay", she said.
Florence is an unusual storm.
Meanwhile, Super Typhoon Mangkhut has hit the northern tip of the Philippines, with maximum gusts of 177mph.