The father was transported to a hospital for treatment. In the state's Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.
The hurricane came ashore early Friday, pounding the state with torrential rain and high winds. Through the day, the storm's pace slowed even more, from 10 miles per hour Thursday morning to 3 miles per hour by Friday evening.
Hundreds of people needed to be rescued after becoming trapped in their homes by a storm surge of up to three metres in New Bern, a town of 30,000 in North Carolina at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers.
A tornado watch was issued for eastern North Carolina.
New Hanover County officials said Thursday morning that it could accept more residents seeking shelter at Trask Middle School, Eaton Elementary School, Codington Elementary School, the Johnson Pre-K Center and Noble Middle School.
"We're deeply concerned for whole communities which could be wiped away".
A North Carolina city says about 70 people have been rescued from a hotel whose structural integrity is being threatened by Hurricane Florence.
As of 6 a.m., Florence was centered just 10 miles (20 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
A video of a live segment of him in Wilmington, North Carolina, shows him bracing his feet on where he's standing, presumably so he won't be blown over during his segment. "If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it".
The biggest danger, as forecasters saw it, was not the wind but the water: the storm surge along the coastline and the prospect of 1 to 3½ feet of rain over the next several days that could trigger catastrophic flooding in a slow-motion disaster well inland.
The downtown area of the city of 30,000 people was underwater and around 150 people were waiting to be rescued, city authorities said on Twitter. That's down from a high of 140mph, but still expected to cause "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall". Officials in South Carolina's Craven County say conditions are much worse than some residents expected, with almost 500 people calling the local emergency services hotline asking for help. The National Hurricane Center says Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast.
The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 miles per hour (135 kph) by nightfall.
With the brunt of the storm yet to come, a gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, a city near the coast, was already recording 10 feet (3 meters) of inundation, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
After landfall, Florence slowed to a pace that meant it would plague the area with days of flooding.
North Carolina utilities have estimated that as many as 2.5 million state residents could be left without power, the state's Department of Public Safety said.