Parts of West-central Virginia and far eastern West Virginia will see "life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with an elevated risk for landslides", according to the agency.
SC has reported its first death from Florence.
As of 2:00 pm (1800 GMT), maximum sustained winds had weakened to near 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour, but the NHC warned residents of unsafe storm surges and "catastrophic flooding". A 78-year-old man connecting extension cords in the rain was electrocuted, according to Roger Dail, the Lenoir County director of emergency services.
Zooming out to the full projection, shown above, the core of the storm is slated to enter North Carolina around 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Power outages are widespread, affecting over 740,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and 163,000 in SC.
The National Hurricane Center said as much as 40in (102cm) was expected on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC.
Protected: More than 20,000 people in shelters in North Carolina, 6,400 in SC and 400 in Virginia. "And we had no belief it would be as significant an event as it was, â€ he said. â€œThis is a 500- or 1,000-year event. â€Eudy´s family has lived in New Bern since the 1850s, he said".
"Sooner or later we need to get out of there", Orrin H. Pilkey, a professor emeritus of geology at Duke University, told The Associated Press before the storm hit. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.
A state of emergency is in effect in five coastal states - North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia. We got thrown into mailboxes.
The tree was about 6 feet above the road surface.
"It's the worst feeling in the world to hear people yelling for help, and you can't do anything", she said.
Officials in SC said a 61-year-old woman died when her auto struck a tree that had fallen across a highway near the town of Union.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week. That could affect the infrastructure, bridges, residences, farms and other buildings, Dahler said.
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More than 300 volunteers from nine U.S. states have joined the relief effort in North Carolina, according to ABC News. Duke Energy, the area's biggest utility company, said that figure could rise to three million and restoring power could take weeks. It continues to chug west, slowing down from 5 miles per hour to 2 miles per hour.
Tom Balance, owner of a seafood restaurant in New Bern, had decided against evacuating his home and was soon alarmed to see waves coming off the Neuse and the water getting higher and higher. Forecasters said this onslaught could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.