Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina on the United States’ East Coast at 7.15 am (4.45 pm Indian time) on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane centre had lowered the threat of the storm on Thursday, calling it a category one hurricane as wind speeds slowed down. However, it said that the storm remains dangerous because of heavy rainfall. It also said winds of 90 miles per hour (150 km per hour) are expected.

The centre’s director, Ken Graham, warned that the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path, according to AFP. “The longer you have this hurricane wind flow, the longer you push that water well inland,” he said.

The hurricane centre added that the greatest threats to life came from storm-surges while “catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding” was expected, with some areas receiving up to 40 inches (101.6 cm) of rainfall.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

The hurricane has snapped power to over 3.8 lakh residents in North and South Carolina, CNN reported, quoting emergency officials. At least 26,000 people have moved into more than 200 emergency shelters across the Carolinas and around 1,300 flights along the East Coast were cancelled on Friday.

Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned the danger was not only along the coast: “Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that’s what we’re about to see,” he said.

“This storm will bring destruction,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. “Catastrophic effects will be felt.”