TOPSAIL BEACH N.C. (WDRB) --  Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina early Friday, pushing a life-threatening storm surge of floodwater miles inland and ripping apart buildings with screaming wind and pelting rain.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane a few miles east of Wilmington, as the center of its eye moved onshore near Wrightsville Beach, the National Hurricane Center said.

At 7 a.m., Florence was centered just 5 miles (10 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina. Its forward movement was 6 mph (9 kph). Hurricane-force winds extended 90 miles (150 kilometers) from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 195 miles (315 kilometers).

WDRB Meteorologist Marc Weinberg and Reporter Travis Ragsdale are on the ground in North Carolina, and left Topsail Beach Friday morning. 

Weinberg says one of the most notable things about the storm is how unrelenting it has been. 

As the storm moved through Topsail Beach, sustained winds came in at 80-85 mph, with wind gusts over 90 mph at one point. 

By 8 a.m., wind speeds were coming in around 40 mph in Topsail Beach. 

"So I think we're transitioning in the storm from the threat - at least in our location - of the strongest winds to what is going to become a massive fresh water flooding situation," Weinberg said, adding that some parts of the state could see 30 inches or more of rain. Weinberg says he believes Morehead could see severe flash flooding, with storm surges as high as 10 feet. 

"I don't think it can be overstated just what kind of impact this storm might have here," Ragsdale added.  

Ragsdale noted that several people had to be rescued from New Bern after a storm surge there overnight. 

"The focus now is first getting the power back on to the nearly 400,000 people who are without power in North Carolina right now," Ragsdale said. "That doesn't include South Carolina."

That number had grown to 500,000 by 11 a.m. according to a tweet from North Carolina Emergency Management, with about 200,000 people seeking refuge in more than 100 shelters. 

The worst of the storm's fury had yet to reach coastal South Carolina, where emergency managers said people could still leave flood-prone areas.

Weinberg says the destructive force of Florence will most likely continue for several days, and tweeted that travel in the area will be difficult. 

Click here for continuing coverage of Hurricane Florence. 

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