The city's official Twitter account urged residents to move to the upper floors of their homes.
Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
If you're anxious about flooding away from the coast, then the Southeast River Forecast Center is your go-to stop.
"I'm anxious about what I might find when I go home, though", she said.
The danger came in the form of a massive storm surge.
At least 10 hours earlier, the storm began punishing the coastal area with sustained hurricane force winds, the National Hurricane Center said.
Five county swift-board teams as well as the "Cajun Navy" from Louisaiana are attempting to rescue everyone they can. The map behind her disappears, and thanks to wonders of mixed reality, we can actually see the wind raging and the water rising on a street, complete with cars, trees and buildings in the background.
Before dawn on Friday, authorities had been forced to rescue more than 60 people in Wilmington, some who had ignored evacuation orders. And this is just the beginning.
Florence could bring wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as four metres and NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook they could push in as far as three kilometres. We have wind and rain. It has garnered the attention of people not just in the USA but from people around the globe.
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Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane on Thursday evening with peak winds of 90 miles per hour (150 km/h).
Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.
The National Hurricane Center says the eyewall of Hurricane Florence is beginning to reach the North Carolina coast. "This may be worse than what we've seen before", Assistant Fire Chief Joey Roberts said during a press conference Wednesday. The other major supplier in southeast North Carolina - North Carolina Electric Cooperatives - recorded major outages extending 80 miles inland.
About 5.25 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches, and 4.9 million in places covered by tropical storm warnings or watches, the National Weather Service said.
In Morehead City, an NWS Meteorologist captured dramatic footage of rain water sweeping through a parking lot.
"Right now, most of the properties we have there in North and SC are sold out", said a spokesman for InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns the Holiday Inn franchise.
Jacksonville Public Safety spokesperson Beth Purcell tells TIME that flood waters have not yet reached Jacksonville, but that conditions are "very poor".
North Carolina corrections officials said more than 3,000 people were relocated from prisons and juvenile detention centers in the path of Florence, and more than 300 county prisoners were transferred to state facilities.
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