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"We can not underestimate this storm".
Some Carolinians have expressed frustration after evacuating their homes for a storm that was later downgraded - but officials have pushed back at suggestions that Florence's threat has been exaggerated.
However, some have made a decision to ignore the orders and stay in their residences despite officials warning "this is a powerful storm that can kill". The child's injured father was hospitalized.
Image: Waters come ashore in Avon, North Carolina.
"We still have a lot of people who are not taking this seriously".
After landfall, Florence slowed to a pace that meant it would plague the area with days of flooding.
But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Governor Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.
"To those in the storm's path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place", he said at a news conference in Raleigh, adding that Florence would "continue its violent grind across the state for days".
On top of the potentially destructive hurricane, forecasters also put parts of North Carolina on tornado watch.
At 6 miles per hour, Florence is taking its time making it to shore, but it's already causing life-threatening storm surges and bringing hurricane-force winds to the North Carolina coast.
The first effects of the now Category 1 Hurricane Florence are already being felt in the Carolinas, where the storm is expected to make landfall later today, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches (one meter) of rain, forecasters said. Twenty inches (50 cm) were reported by early Friday afternoon in the town of Oriental. Calls for help kept coming in as the wind picked up and the tide arrived, said city public information officer Colleen Roberts.
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"Now we just have to figure out how to get hot coffee", said Mary Holland, standing on the porch of her home that was built in 1889.
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The home was unscathed despite large trees looming overhead.
"It's insane", he said in a phone interview.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city tweeted around 2 a.m.
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.
Tropical Storm Florence trudged inland on Saturday, flooding rivers and towns, toppling trees and cutting power to almost a million homes and businesses as it dumped huge amounts of rain on North and SC, causing five deaths. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend.
Rivers are expected to burst their banks.Some 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. "We are going to hunker down and stay safe and not stay in mobiles and we will be OK".
Maysie Baumgardner, 7, and her family sheltered at the Hotel Ballast in downtown Wilmington as Florence filled the streets with floodwaters.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or fatalities, though most of the city was without power and thousands of buildings had been damaged, said Roberts on Friday. "I'm a little bit scared right now, but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix".
People in areas vulnerable to the unsafe hurricane, particularly those in coastal regions, have fled ahead of the storm.
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