Wilmington, North Carolina saw a wind gust of 105 miles per hour, its highest in 60 years.
By tomorrow afternoon, the center of Florence is expected to be across western SC.
A Twitter user captured the moment a reporter for the Weather Channel appeared to fake the severity of the winds caused by Hurricane Florence on Friday as the hurricane made landfall in North Carolina.
Blowing ashore with howling 155 km/h winds, Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster.
Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.
Right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Hurricane Center is predicting that Florence will become a tropical storm tomorrow (Sept. 15) over SC, continue northwest to eastern Kentucky, then swing northeast and track over most of New England early next week. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.
The surges will be most harmful in North Carolina, with rain and flooding also making the dangerously high water levels even worse. Dozens more were rescued from a collapsed motel.
That's how hard the wind gusted in North Carolina's New River inlet.
As Florence drew near, President Donald Trump tweeted that FEMA and first responders are "supplied and ready", and he disputed the official conclusion that almost 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico, claiming the figure was a Democratic plot to make him look bad.
Water could reach as high as 5ft in some areas.
A mother and her eight-month-old baby were killed Friday when a tree fell on a house, according to a tweet from police in Wilmington, N.C. The father was transported to a hospital for treatment.
Nearly 800,000 people are reported to be without power already in North Carolina, and officials have warned restoring electricity could take days or even weeks.
Florence "will continue to track slowly inland through the Carolinas this weekend", the National Weather Service said in its 8:00 a.m. update Saturday. Forecasters Saturday expected another 15 inches (nearly 40 centimeters) in parts of the Carolinas.
The small town of Hamlet in Richmond County, North Carolina, for example, is full of toxic emitters: within its borders are a chicken processing plant, an energy company and a wood pellet manufacturer that broke ground within the past few years.
In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River left 500 people in peril. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".
FEMA teams were employing boats in the rescues and were determining which cases were the most severe.
Zaytoun said he didn't leave his home because he knew he wouldn't have been able to get back to it once the flooding began. She retreated and was eventually rescued by a boat crew; 140 more awaited assistance. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.