Hurricane Florence will be one of the biggest storms to make landfall along the USA eastern seaboard in decades.
City officials in one North Carolina community sent out an ominous tweet sometime around 2 a.m. Friday. The child's father was taken to a hospital. A fourth person was killed in Lenoir County while plugging in a generator, the governor's office said.
Locals in the Carolina states have said they have little trust in the authorities and fear they would not get much support from central government should the area be devastated by the hurricane, given the response to the devastation caused by Maria to Puerto Rico past year.
"I stayed here. I'd been through so many hurricanes", said Balance, who added that six sheriff's officers came to his house to rescue him Friday morning, but he didn't need to leave since the tides and river were receding.
In Jacksonville, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the cinderblock structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse.
Hurricane Florence arrived on North Carolina's Atlantic coast early Friday, making landfall near the town of Wrightsville Beach, with maximum sustained winds of 90 kilometers per hour and gusts up to 150 kilometers per hour.
Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of sea water.
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And they say people who are truly in an emergency should call 911, not just Tweet about it.
There also could be significant beach erosion in some area, the weather service said.
There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries, but authorities said more than 100 people were rescued further north in New Bern, where the downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was under water.
"The water kept rising and kept rising", he said. She said a hurricane has a way of bringing everyone to the same level.
According to a report from the J.P. Morgan Chase Institute, extreme weather events like the one now battering the Carolinas and Virginia can have far-reaching effects on consumers' wallets, impacting their spending for months after the storm has cleared.
"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.
Gov. Cooper told Morning Edition that he expects flooding could get worse as more rain falls and that the state's No. 1 mission right now is "working very hard to save lives".
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"We know where the water's going now so we can kind of better prepare those buildings and exhibits", she said.
More than 370,000 people were without power in North Carolina early on Friday, state officials said.
"We're talking about days, potentially weeks", Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said Wednesday night on CNN Tonight.
Florence is about 644 kilometres wide and it's winds have dropped from a peak of 225 km/h to 165 km/h, reducing the hurricane from a terrifying Category 4 to a Category 2.
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.
About 10 million people could be affected by the storm and more than 1 million were ordered to evacuate the coasts of the Carolinas and Virginia.
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