Hurricane Florence claimed its first victims Friday, after a mother and her baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The baby's father was rushed to the hospital to be treated for his injuries, police said.
The storm made landfall earlier on Friday just outside Wilmington, bringing life-threatening storm surge and hurricane force winds.
Hundreds of people had to be rescued in New Bern, North Carolina, as they called for help overnight, city officials said.
"The worst of the storm is not yet here but these are early warnings of the days to come," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. "Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience."
The storm weakened to a Category 1 storm Thursday night, but it has left hundreds of thousands without power nonetheless.
Cooper has requested additional disaster assistance as he expects the state to sustain "historic major damage."
North Carolina has opened 126 shelters for about 12,000 people and nearly 5,000 people were reportedly staying in shelters in South Carolina Thursday, The New York Times reported.
Many residents were ordered to evacuate the Carolinas and Virginia before the storm hit, but it’s not clear how many heeded the warnings.
The storm is expected to bring catastrophic flooding to the Carolinas and bring more than 20 inches of rain, including 40 inches in some part.
"A turn toward the west at a slow forward speed is expected today, followed by a slow west-southwestward motion tonight and Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Florence is expected to move inland across extreme southeastern North Carolina and extreme eastern South Carolina Friday and Saturday,” the center said in a statement.