"We are not turning away that help", she said.
In New Bern, North Carolina, Mayor Dana Outlaw said early Friday that more than 100 water rescues had been undertaken after floodwaters reached more than 10 feet.
Among the dead were a mother and her infant child, who were killed in Wilmington, North Carolina, after a tree fell on their house, police said. Also, a 77-year-old man was apparently knocked down by the wind and died after going out to check on his hunting dogs, Lenoir County authorities said, and the governor's office said a man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords in the rain.
Tom Balance, owner of a seafood restaurant in New Bern, had decided against evacuating his home and was soon alarmed to see waves coming off the Neuse and the water getting higher and higher. Emerald Isle is about 84 miles north of Wilmington.
Florence brought hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surge as it made landfall along the coast of North Carolina near Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 a.m. Friday. It came ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind.
Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, could be in for heavy rains as Florence plods inland.
Firefighters and rescue crews pray in front of a home after removing a resident trapped inside during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018.
Hurricane Florence is dumping rain on North Carolina and pushing a storm surge taller than most humans onto communities near the coast.
About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats.
A tree uprooted by strong winds lies along a street in Wilmington, N.C., after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday. Hurricane Florence will slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland.
Florence's landfall - when the center of the eye reaches land - is likely to happen mid- to late morning Friday, CNN forecasters said. Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay, he calculated.
Hurricane Florence is a real, ongoing threat. Hundreds more had to be rescued elsewhere from rising waters.
The NWS reported "lots of tree damage, debris and power lines down" across Harkers Island, N.C.
Middle Georgia could have wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour Sunday afternoon and evening. Nationwide, airlines canceled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday.
In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River left 500 people in peril.
The city warns that people "may need to move up to the second story" but tells them to stay put as "we are coming to get you".
FEMA teams were employing boats in the rescues and were determining which cases were the most severe.
"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard".