Elsewhere in the storm-ravaged state a man died plugging in a power cord, and a woman died from a heart attack after rescuers were unable to reach her home past downed trees. By late Wednesday, authorities in North Carolina reported almost 7,000 evacuees staying in 71 emergency shelters throughout the state.
Governor Cooper said the state would arrange a visit by Trump "at an appropriate time".
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that Florence's maximum sustained winds had eased to 110mph (175kmh) and it had been downgraded to a Category 2 storm from Category 3 on the five-level Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence will eventually break up over the southern Appalachians and make a right hook to the northeast, its rainy remnants moving into the mid-Atlantic states and New England by the middle of next week.
The NHC said Florence went ashore near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, at 7:15 a.m. EDT with estimated maximum winds of 90 miles per hour.
On Sept. 14, NHC posted the following warnings and watches: A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for South Santee River, South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina, the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, including the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.
Police said 150 to 200 residents have been rescued earlier on Friday and 150 or more were still awaiting rescue.
Federal officials are urging anyone who ignored orders to evacuate from Hurricane Florence to hunker down and stay put until the storm passes. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and they're seeing the floodwaters rise". Calls for help kept coming in as the wind picked up and the tide arrived, said city public information officer Colleen Roberts. They ventured out in life jackets into the waste-deep water to tie the boat and another floating by to a tree. "This is a 500- or 1,000-year event".
Hundreds of people in North Carolina have been rescued from rising water.
Florence is forecast to dump up to 40 inches (1m) of rain in some areas after it makes landfall in North and SC.
More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse. Numerous evacuees took their pets. "There will be disruptions in our services", he said.
"Protection of life is the absolute highest priority", he added. Trump planned a visit to the region next week. She says it had not run out at any of its 27 locations in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
The center of Florence will approach the coasts of North and SC on Thursday, then move near or over the coast of southern North Carolina and eastern SC on Thursday night and Friday, the NHC added. Significant weakening is expected at the weekend.
Storm surge, the massive mound of water that builds up and comes ashore during a hurricane, is often the deadliest and most destructive threat from the storms.
Florence was one of two major storms threatening millions of people on opposite sides of the world. In the Philippines, evacuations were under way with Super Typhoon Mangkhut expected to hit on Saturday in an area impacting an estimated 5.2 million people.