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As of Friday afternoon the storm had already claimed four lives, including a mother and her baby who were killed when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina.

"Hurricane Florence is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days".

At least five people have been killed so far in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence which was downgraded Friday afternoon to a tropical storm with winds of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) along the U.S. East Coast. Officials also said one person was electrocuted in Lenoir County while plugging in a generator in the rain, and a man died after being blown to the ground while checking on his hunting dogs.

The deluge could push industrial waste sites to the limit, Governor Roy Cooper said on Friday.

Five deaths have been linked to the storm and thousands of people have been staying in emergency shelters. Local media said she had suffered a heart attack.

"Our preparation is now having to turn to determination and we're going to work hard to recover and recover quickly", Cooper said. The Carteret Country Sheriff's Office confirmed that two deaths initially reported as a result of Florence in North Carolina were a result of an apparent murder-suicide. The body of the 78-year-old man was discovered by family members Friday morning.

"Great job FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement - not easy, very unsafe, tremendous talent".

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up a "rumor control" website to quash false information in Florence's wake.

Tropical Storm Florence has torn apart buildings, drowned streets, torn up trees, submerged cars and knocked out energy for millions of properties within the Carolinas.The worn storm is forcing ocean water onto land and backing up rivers and streams, in what meteorologists consult with as a storm surge.

One potential road out was blocked as flooding forced the shutdown of a 16-mile (26-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 95, the main route along the Eastern Seaboard.

"We're deeply concerned for whole communities which could be wiped away".

More than 360 people had been rescued by midafternoon Friday, hours after then-Hurricane Florence swept through, but another 140 were still waiting for help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts told The Associated Press.

"It was pitch black and I was just scared out of my mind", said Tracy Singleton, who with her family later drove through torrential rain and high winds from her home near New Bern.

The White House said Friday U.S. President Donald Trump will travel to areas hit by Hurricane Florence next week, once it has been determined that his travel would not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts.

The biggest threat brought by Florence, which has been downgraded to a Category 1 storm, is not wind but water.

A severe inland flood threat is emerging as remnants of Florence pound the Carolinas with almost nonstop rain for a second day since the once major hurricane howled ashore.

The city of about 29,000, which was founded in the early 1700s and was briefly the state capital, is near the North Carolina coast and is bordered on the east and south, respectively, by two rivers.

In Wilmington, near where the eye of the storm touched down, trees and power lines were felled and many windows were broken.

There have been numerous calls for fallen trees, according to officials, however they are not aware of any others where people are trapped.

Mason Tarr said he spent the night at a friend's house but didn't sleep well.