Police in Wilmington, North Carolina, near where the hurricane made landfall, said a mother and her infant were killed when a tree fell on their house.
The father was also in the house and had to be taken to a local hospital for treatment after the incident. Dozens of people were rescued from a collapsing hotel in North Carolina.
Forecasters have been predicting catastrophic flash flooding.
The river swamped the town after Hurricane Matthew came through two years ago: One church parishioner drowned during that storm, more than 700 families were displaced from their homes, and two of the city's largest public housing projects were destroyed, Foreman said.
"Rescue workers are working in unsafe conditions that will only get worse today", said Cooper, who called the storm a "1,000-year rain event" for parts of southeastern North Carolina. We were forced to have conversations with these people and say hey, do you by chance live in a two-story home?
As the rough winds toppled trees and power lines Friday, power was knocked out to more than 700,000 North Carolina customers.
As of 2:00 pm (1800 GMT), maximum sustained winds had weakened to 75 miles per hour (120 kph) but the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned Carolina residents to be alert for life-threatening storm surges and "catastrophic freshwater flooding".
The NOAA's National Hurricane Centre (NHC) has warned multiple tornadoes could form within the area of North Carolina.
"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said. "It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave".
Florence has dumped more than a foot of rainwater on parts of southeastern North Carolina since making landfall near Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 a.m. ET.
Florence pours on the rain amid fears of catastrophic floods More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters. The figure included a woman and her baby killed when a tree fell on their house, while a sixth fatality occurred in SC .
Potentially heavy rainfall was expected in Charleston as Florence creeps inland.
Florence made landfall at 7:15 a.m. on Friday as a hurricane with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour - making it a Category 1 storm. It started pushing its way westward across SC later in the day, in a watery siege that could go on all weekend.
Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.
Authorities warned too of the threat of mudslides and the risk of environmental havoc from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and pig farms.
Sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before daybreak in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the electricity went out. National Hurricane Center meteorologist Joel Cline said the mountains will wring water out of the moist tropical air: "It's like running into a wall, and that moisture has to go somewhere, and it goes up, creates rain, and you have torrential rain in that area".
"I about jumped out of my skin", he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday morning. It was expected to slowly move southwest into SC before turning north, forecasters said.
In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River left 500 people in peril.
More than 20,000 residents have packed into North Carolina emergency shelters, and officials have told those still in the storm's path to stay in place.
Since 1950, the center of 24 tropical systems (tropical storms and hurricanes combined) have either directly hit Wilmington, North Carolina have come within 25 miles of Wilmington.
More than 22,600 people were housed in 150 shelters statewide, including schools, churches and Wake Forest University's basketball arena.
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A woman allegedly abducted by Juan David Ortiz had been able to escape and alert officers, according to local media reports. Numerous workers are also low-income women of color. "We do consider this to be a serial killer", Alaniz said .
Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland in the Carolinas over the next few days. More than 12,000 people were in shelters in North Carolina and 400 in Virginia, where the forecast was less dire.
Bird's girlfriend escaped when he eventually suffered "seizure-like symptoms" and passed out, according to the police report . Bird was originally scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, but that was delayed as he remained hospitalized at St.
Boarding up his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina , Chris Pennington watched the forecasts and tried to decide when to leave. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.
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The storm will dump rain in the Carolinas through the weekend. "I can not overstate it: flood waters are rising". The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and mercury.
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Scientists have filmed an astonishing video of the interior of Hurricane Florence , as the storm bears down on North and SC . Numerous beach communities expected to be impacted by Hurricane Florence have livestreams to monitor the surf conditions.
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Duke Energy Corp expected between 25 percent and 75 percent of its 4 million customers would lose power in the Carolinas. Wilmington , North Carolina, just north of where Florence appeared headed for shore, grew empty and quiet on Wednesday.
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