Hurricane Florence is continuing to push towards a landfall around the North Carolina/South Carolina border, and is beginning to lash the central Atlantic seaboard with damaging winds and storm surge.
The victims were a mother and infant, police said on Twitter.
Forecasters said catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected well inland over the next few days as Florence crawls westward across the Carolinas all weekend. But these winds combined with a giant storm surge and deluge of rain are brewing havoc along the coast. "Surviving this storm with be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".
Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.
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.
The storm made landfall Friday at 7:15 a.m. ET just south of Wrightsville Beach - about 6.5 miles due east for Wilmington, North Carolina.
Pentagon officials said the strategy was developed, in large part, to the lessons learned from hurricane response efforts mounted a year ago. "This one is set to linger right where it is for at least 48 hours".
The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.
"Trees are blowing down in the wind".
The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 169 km/hr the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.
U.S. President Donald Trump took a moment on Friday to thank those responding to emergencies across the Carolinas. The military has the benefit of using its own bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, to pre-position relief supplies and equipment. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.
"The National Hurricane Center said Florence is moving very slowly to the west at only 6 miles an hour, then is expected to turn to the southwest, increasing the threat for historic storm surge and catastrophic flooding to coastline areas and inland cities in North Carolina and SC". "Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles (130 km) from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles (315 km)". Coastal towns in the Carolinas were largely empty, and schools and businesses closed as far south as Georgia.
Hurricane Florence remains a significant storm surge and flash flood event, according to the latest public advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It caused most of the 1,200 deaths in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Forecasters said the Category 1 storm's extreme size meant it could batter the U.S. East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day.