The child's injured father was taken to a hospital. A woman in Pender County, North Carolina, died from a heart attack after calling emergency services, as paramedics could not reach her because of fallen trees.
A fourth person was killed while plugging in a generator in Lenoir County, north of Wilmington, WITN-TV reported. By Friday evening, the eye of the storm had moved to SC. Cooper cited a National Weather Service forecast that said almost the entire state could be covered in several feet of water.
A spokeswoman for Love's Travel Stops says demand for gasoline has doubled at numerous company's truck-stop locations in the path of Hurricane Florence.
Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15 AM EDT (1115 UTC) with estimated maximum winds of 90 miles per hour (150 km/h), and a minimum central pressure estimate of 958 millibars.More news: SpaceX announces new plan to send tourist around Moon
Some residents ignored calls to evacuate. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they're seeing the floodwaters rise".
Tens of thousands of homes and businesses could be flooded in North Carolina alone, Governor Cooper warned.
"New Bern is just not used to this level of a hurricane", with damaging gales, rains, storm surge and flash flooding, said New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw. They ventured out in life jackets into the waste-deep water to tie the boat and another floating by to a tree. Gigi Charlebois, owner of the Edenton Coffee House on the northern shore of North Carolina's Albemarle Sound, chose to stay with her family overnight in the shop's dining room, sleeping on couches, pull-out cots and a mattress.
"What happens is that we rescue some people and then we find out there are still more who need it", Outlaw said. "This is a 500- or 1,000-year event".
"The sun rose this morning on an extremely risky situation and it's going to get worse", he said at a news conference in Raleigh. "The water started rising and we evacuated nearly an entire TV station in about 15 minutes", anchor Jaime McCutcheon tweeted around 8 p.m.
Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of North and SC. Numerous evacuees had pets with them.More news: US to take longer to mull Sprint merger with T
"I am anxious about what I might find when I go home, though", she said. Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks. Forecasters said Florence is expected to blow ashore late Thursday or early Friday, even as President Donald Trump has declared states of emergency for North and SC and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. Gradual weakening is expected throughout the day Friday, with significant weakening predicted over the weekend.
More than 80,000 people were already without power as the storm began buffeting the coast, and more than 12,000 were in shelters.
Florence was one of two major storms on Friday.
At least 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been warned to evacuate, and others are hunkering down.More news: Eminem apologizes for homophobic slur on 'Kamikaze'