Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds reached out 195 miles (315 kilometers).
After maintaining Category 4 or 3 status most of Wednesday, Florence was a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph churning about 205 miles southeast of Wilmington, according to a 5 a.m. briefing by the National Hurricane Center.
Members of the Missouri Search and Rescue, part of FEMA, unload their gear at a staging area as Hurricane Florence starts to make landfall in Lealand, North Carolina, Sept. 13, 2018. Ocean water flowed between homes and on to streets on the Outer Banks; waves crashed against wooden fishing piers.
Tominack said he is seeing extremely strong winds, but he has not yet had any issues with flooding.
As of Thursday morning, forecast models showed the storm bringing more rain than originally thought - officials now predict 35 inches of rain will fall in a two-day period as Florence, now a Category 2 storm with 115 miles per hour sustained winds, will stall over Wilmington after making landfall early Friday morning.
Florence is moving toward land at 9 kilometers per hour (6 mph), giving it more time to churn, suck up water, batter the coast, and bring massive amounts of rain inland. We will have tropical storm force winds and rain and storm surge continues to be our main concern with extreme flooding.
More ominously, forecasters said the onslaught on the coast would last for hours and hours because Florence had come nearly to a dead halt at just 3 mph (6 kph) as of midday.
Public officials have been warning residents to evacuate the East Coast for the last few days, though plenty of people have chosen to bunker down in their homes, and it remains to be seen how many people may need to be rescued from the imminent floods and areas that lose power.
The hurricane knocked a basketball-sized hole in the wall of the Triangle Motor causing cinder blocks to crumble and the roof to fall down - while residents were still in their rooms. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend and into early next week while Florence moves farther inland.
Alex Cora discusses Trump's comments on Puerto Rico
While Hostin said she "would never" company anyone to Hitler, she said Trump simply just "did not care enough" in this instance. Navarro said that precisely because of those facts, FEMA and Trump should have known that the island would need extra help.
A later tally estimated about 350 people in New Bern needed to be rescued from flooding on the Neuse River, and about 70 people in Jacksonville, North Carolina, had to be moved to safety from a hotel whose structural integrity was threatened by the hurricane.
City spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said in an interview with the AP around 10:30 a.m. Friday that about 120 others were still awaiting help.
Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 2 to 4 inches with isolated amounts up to 8 to 10 inches over Dominica.
The National Hurricane Center says the eyewall of Hurricane Florence is beginning to reach the North Carolina coast.
The city of 29,000 that's near the North Carolina coast is surrounded by two rivers on the east and south.
More than 370,000 people were without power in North Carolina early on Friday, state officials said. "A USGS gauge in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, recently recorded 6.3 feet of inundation".
But while the president urged people in the region to follow instructions to evacuate, he obscured that message Thursday, when he tweeted that he didn't believe a study that determined almost 3,000 people died after hurricanes Maria and Irma swept across Puerto Rico a year ago.
"Because of the slow movement of the storm, the rain is going to have plenty of time keep piling up", said Feltgen.
Screaming winds bent trees and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday.