This amount would be a state a record for a tropical storm or hurricane if verified.
Police in Wilmington say a mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their house. "The father was transported to (New Hanover Regional Medical Center) with injuries". The person was killed while plugging in a generator.
"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the hurricane center said.
"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm", Cooper said in a statement.
Notice the lag in flooding; most rivers will begin to rise 48 to 72 hours after the storm exits the coast. It said it was located about 35 miles (55 km) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and forecasters predicted a slow westward march.
Although it has been downgraded to a tropical storm, slow-moving Florence is already blasting North and SC with torrential rain and severe floods. In addition to the flash flood and flooding threat, landslides are also possible in the higher terrain of the southern and central Appalachians across western North Carolina into southwest Virginia.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com said Florence could dump a staggering 18 trillion gallons (68 trillion liters) of rain over a week on North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Maryland. Twenty inches (50 cm) were reported by early Friday afternoon in the town of Oriental.
Some of the worst flooding was in New Bern, a town of 30,000 in North Carolina at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers, where hundreds of people needed to be rescued after becoming trapped in their homes by a storm surge of up to 10 feet (three meters).
Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and the tide rolled in.
The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help. NY emergency workers reported rescuing elderly residents at a New River retirement community.
Jon Wright considers himself one of the lucky residents of Wilmington, N.C. - so far. Jennifer Morales, 20, said there was 3 feet of water in her home.
"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.
On Thursday evening, the Neuse River burst its banks which caused rapid flooding in New Bern, North Carolina, forcing residents to flee as the entire city lost power.
Despite having 20,000 employees on standby to work on restoring power, Duke Energy said it could take weeks to fix Florence's damage. The storm was near Myrtle Beach overnight Friday into Saturday, will move closer to Conway and then move west across SC on Saturday into Sunday and then start to move faster northwest through the mountains and away from the Piedmont Triad early next week. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend.
Power outages are widespread, affecting over 740,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and 163,000 in SC. Some of those who stayed went to shelters while others stuck it out in their homes.
Sample said that when he looked outside of his house, which is about 1,000 yards from the beach, he saw the rain pooling up on the street and what looked like storm surge coming up the road. "I'm a little bit scared right now, but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix". For those wishing to track Florence's devastation from miles away, PBS NewsHour has compiled this guide of sources that we will be closely monitoring as the storm progresses.