Two people were killed in Lenoir County, according to Emergency Services Director Roger Dail during the storm.
The worst of the storm's fury had yet to reach coastal SC, where emergency managers said it was not too late for people to get out.
Rather than rebuild, they moved to Wilmington, North Carolina - where Hurricane Florence threatened their new home this week. All three people were in separate vehicles and died on Saturday, the Sheriff's Office said.
In the town of Hampstead, emergency responders going to a call for cardiac arrest Friday morning found their path blocked by downed trees.
Florence's center may linger for another whole day along coastal North and SC - punishing homes with crushing winds and floods and endangering those who've stayed behind.
At 11 a.m., Florence was centered about 20 miles southwest of Wilmington, NC, and about 55 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, SC, crawling west-southwest at 3 mph.
The port city of Wilmington woke Friday to the sound of exploding electrical transformers with strong gusts throwing street signs and other debris as well as water in all directions, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.
Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence September 14, 2018 in New Bern, United States. She plans to continue to ride out the storm.
Another woman who was rescued by another group in New Bern told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°" that she and her family thought they would be safe in their brick home and heard the storm had been downgraded from a Category 4.
"Rescue workers are working in risky 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.
A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.
In Brunswick County, Hurricane Florence was continuing to make its impacts felt Friday.
Parker says water levels in some areas of Craven County are already higher than levels from Hurricane Irene.
Flood conditions are only expected to get worse in the days to come with relentless rainfall from the slow-moving storm.
State and local officials have been warning residents the danger has not subsided as the Carolinas face what is expected to be historic flooding across the region.
"Florence is here to stay for awhile", McMaster said from Columbia Friday afternoon.
After a night of torrential rain, devastating wind and risky storm surges, the damage that Florence, now a tropical storm, brought to the Carolina coast is only now starting to fully reveal itself.
"I don't care if it was $250 million; it's not about that", he said.