A mother and infant were killed in Wilmington, N.C. after a tree fell on a house there while the Category 1 hurricane throttled the eastern North Carolina coastline Friday morning.
The father was transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center with injuries.
A 77-year-old man was found dead at 8 a.m. Friday by his family at his home on Middle Street in Kinston.
A fourth person reportedly was killed while plugging in a generator in the state's Lenoir County, according to U.S. media.
Florence was inching along Friday night into Saturday, trapping people in flooded homes and promising days of destruction and human suffering.
The hurricane came ashore early Friday, pounding the state with torrential rain and high winds.
"It looks like a battlefield out here", he said.
"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said at a news conference Friday. That number was down to 40 later in the day. She said that count is expected to increase significantly.
Forecasters warned that drenching rains of anywhere from 1 to 3½ feet as the storm crawls westward across North and SC could trigger epic flooding well inland over the next few days. Hundreds of thousands of customers had already lost power east of Charlotte. The University of SC already announced plans to reopen classes at the main Columbia campus Tuesday as long as conditions allow.
The strongest wind gusts were recorded at 61 miles per hour at the Myrtle Beach International Airport.
Hurricane-force winds extended 70 miles (110 kilometers) from the center, and tropical storm-force winds reached out 195 miles (315 kilometers).
"All school closures, except those in Horry and Georgetown counties, are right now, immediately returned to local school authorities", McMaster said. But Currivan said he's not anxious. The National Weather Service said the floods likely will last for weeks.
"We're looking at the same amount of rainfall in three days".
Florence begins to batter Carolina coast — WHAT'S HAPPENING
Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines.
"It was pretty bad".
"With this storm, it's a (Category 1) but the storm surge and the flooding is going to be that of a category 4", CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Gray explained Thursday night. "I woke up at 6 a.m., and the water was coming into the house".
At six feet, viewers were able to visualize how the waters could quickly overcome them and submerge their property.
"It's the worst feeling in the world to hear people yelling for help and you can't do anything", she said.
Ashley Warren and boyfriend Chris Smith managed to paddle away from their home in a boat with their two dogs, and the experience left her shaken. There, rescuers have saved over 200 people from their homes, where rising waters have forced people into attics and upon rooftops, and about 150 more people still await rescue.
Video reports from several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through thigh-high water in residential neighborhoods.
"I'll grow concerned if the water starts getting close to my truck. Many people who think the storm has missed them have yet to see its threat".
But Florence had slowed to a crawl as it traced the North Carolina-South Carolina shoreline, drenching coastal communities for hours on end.
Florence is one of four named storms in the Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center says the storm will continue to produce catastrophic flash flooding over both of the Carolinas, south-central Virginia and West Virginia in the coming days.
As it moves near OH and West Virginia, it will become a remnant low.