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Officials have issued warnings to the public as Hurricane Florence approaches.

Cooper also wanted to remind folks to not drive on roads covered by water, and to stay away from doors and windows during the worst of the storm. The child's father was taken to a hospital.

Vehicular bridges to North Carolina's Bogue Banks closed on Thursday, with no one allowed onto the beaches and shores until further notice.

"The magnitude of the storm is beyond what we have seen in years", Duke Energy incident commander Howard Fowler said in a statement.

Does it matter that Florence is moving slowly?

Hurricane Florence approaches North and SC, a veteran reporter has issued a dark warning to those refusing to flee.

"It was pitch black and I was just scared out of my mind", said Tracy Singleton, who with her family later drove through torrential rain and high winds from her home near New Bern to a hotel some almost 80 miles (130 km) away.

And because Hurricane Florence has the potential to stall, it could inflict a lot more damage and cause more severe flooding in North Carolina than Floyd did 19 years ago.

Tropical storm-level winds and rain are already beginning to hit the Carolinas.And despite slower winds the devastating effects of predicted massive rainfall have not changed, according to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC), which warned of "catastrophic flash flooding" from up to 40 inches of rain. Forecasters are predicting as much as 40in of rain in some localized areas.

Authorities in New Bern, a town of about 30,000 people that dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater. "But can't replace us, so we chose to come here", said the 39-year-old.

"We live in a mobile home so we were just like 'No way, '" she said.

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President Donald Trump has said protecting lives is his "absolute highest priority" and that the White House is standing by to offer affected states whatever help they ask for.

Florence also blew down trees, including one that went through the roof of Kevin DiLoreto's home in Wilmington.

"It's insane", he said in a phone interview. "We just bought a new house so I'm kinda nervous".

Yes, because it's bringing a voluminous amount of rain, and by lingering it creates worse flooding.

Coastal streets flowed with frothy ocean water and tens of thousands lost electricity.

Florence's winds weakened as it drew closer to land, dropping from a peak of 140 miles per hour (225 kph) earlier in the week, and the hurricane was downgraded from a terrifying Category 4 to a 2.

Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Florence's forward motion had slowed overnight and it was not expected to make landfall in the Carolinas until "some time Friday afternoon, Friday evening or Saturday morning". Significant weakening is expected over the weekend.

Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did. "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. The two hardware chains said they had sent in a total of around 1,100 trucks. "I'm a little bit scared right now, but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix".

People in areas vulnerable to the risky hurricane, particularly those in coastal regions, have fled ahead of the storm.