Firefighters pray at scene where mom, baby killed during Florence

Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm at 7:15 am (1115 GMT) in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, after stalking the Carolina coast for days. The father was pulled from the home and transported to a local hospital with injuries, police said.

As 400-mile-wide (645-kilometer-wide) Florence pounded away at the coast with torrential downpours and surging seas, rescue crews used boats to reach more than 360 people besieged by rising waters in New Bern, North Carolina, while many of their neighbors awaited help.

"This storm is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days", Cooper said.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders, and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.

The hurricane center predicts as much as 101 centimeters (40 inches) of rain for some parts of North Carolina.

Duke Energy Corp, the area's biggest utility with more than 4 million customers, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million and 3 million outages.

With tropical storm-force winds swirling 350 miles wide, Florence continued deluging North and SC on Saturday morning after pushing surging seas far ashore.

A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords, while another man died when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.

"It will not stop, this weather event of Florence", Begnaud said.

More than 300 volunteers from nine USA states have joined the relief effort in North Carolina, according to ABC News.

The Navy says nearly 30 Virginia-based ships and 128 aircraft sent away from their bases in the Hampton Roads-area because of now-Tropical Storm Florence have been given the go-ahead to return.

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Radar loop of Florence over the last 24 hours. Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.

In New Bern, at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers in North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000.

The US National Weather Service has released a flash flood warning as authorities were scrambling to reach almost 150 people now stranded.

"I actually think it is one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about", Trump said on Monday. However, there remains a large amount of uncertainty in the ultimate track of what will become post-tropical-storm Florence.

"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city tweeted around 2 a.m. Friday. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the authorities in New Bern said on Twitter.

Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of North and SC.

"We would like to be given at least 48 hours", Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said.

The rain has turned sideways, rivers are swollen and flood waters are swamping streets as the fury of Hurricane Florence threatens the Carolina's with life-threatening conditions.

It already had, in Beaufort County and its capital city, Washington, where 300 people were rescued from flooded homes.

Florence will continue to move very slowly to the southwest on Saturday, which in turn will drag the axis of heavy rain bands to the southwest as well.

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