But North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned: "Don't relax, don't get complacent". Some parts of New Bern could be flooded with a possible 9-foot storm surge as the Category 2 hurricane approaches the United States. "Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000".
Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and unsafe.
The NHC said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended almost 195 miles out.
Amber Parker, spokesperson for Craven County, North Carolina, tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson that officials are happy to have daylight on their side Friday.
More than a million people along the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have been ordered to evacuate.
Along the coast, floodwaters have been hitting inland towns near rivers that normally discharge into the ocean. As Cooper said, "There's nowhere for the water to go".
"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably a 7" in terms of worry, she said.
"From Wilmington to Charlotte, we'll experience between a 500-year and 1,000-year flood event", Trogdon warned in a late-morning briefing.
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CNN's not the only media outlet with reporters in the way of Florence, delivering scoops on what rain and wind look like. We will have tropical storm force winds and rain and storm surge continues to be our main concern with extreme flooding.
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Similar declarations were made earlier in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
According to the 11 a.m. ET update from the National Hurricane Center, Florence was 55 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and 20 miles southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving west-southwest at a speed of 3 mph. The agency is also warning people in the evacuation areas to leave stating that "This is not going to be a glancing blow". "I've got four cats inside the house".
There's still a threat from rising tides, Risty-Davis says.
Heavy flooding is expected, with a storm surge up to 13ft (4 metres) in the area stretching from Cape Fear to Cape Lookout, North Carolina.
For people living inland in the Carolinas, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest.
Wilmington's airport recorded a 92mph wind gust on Friday morning, the fastest measured since Hurricane Donna hit the city in 1960.
Florence arrived at the Carolina coast as a Category 1 storm, its 90-mph winds far slower than the fearsome 150 miles per hour of just a few days ago. The National Hurricane Center's forecast is for Isaac "to gradually weaken over the next few days, and could degenerate into a tropical wave at anytime".
Over 1,400 flights have been cancelled, according to FlightAware.com, as most of the coastal region's airports are closed to ride out the storm. Thousands of soldiers from their National Guard forces have been mobilized. A storm surge warning is in effect for South Santee River South Carolina to Duck North Carolina. Flooding spread throughout New Bern and was expected to continue. The hurricane is expected to make landfall on Friday, with heavy rain and hurricane-force winds potentially lasting for days.