A new 5-minute video from the space station shows Florence coming ashore in the USA for the first time.
As of 2:00 pm (1800 GMT), maximum sustained winds had weakened to 75 miles per hour (120 kph) but the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned Carolina residents to be alert for life-threatening storm surges and "catastrophic freshwater flooding".
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold also captured Florence making landfall from his spot on the orbiting outpost.
Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from its center.
Weather.com says of the expected storm surges: "A destructive storm surge will accompany the eye coming ashore sometime from Thursday night into Friday or Saturday, and coastal flooding may persist through multiple high tide cycles into this weekend east of the center of Florence". Water kills more people in hurricanes than wind, and the rain and storm surge will make Florence extremely unsafe.
According to a study in June, hurricanes and typhoons, on average, appear to be slowing down in part because of human-caused climate change. She was eventually rescued by a boat crew; 140 more awaited help.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest Florence update at 10am BST that a storm surge warning remained in effect for Myrtle Beach in SC to the Ocracoke Inlet in North Carolina, and for Pamlico Sound. Though forecasters later downgraded Florence to a tropical storm, the monster system is barely moving over the Carolinas and could dump drenching rains of up to 3½ feet (1 meter).
Florence set to become major hurricane, aims at US Southeast
Graham urged coastal residents to finish their planning before the arrival of tropical-storm-force windows on Wednesday. A Category 4 storm packs winds of 209 km/h or more and has the potential for catastrophic damage.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted around 2:30 a.m.
One resident, 67-year-old Linda Smith, told the MailOnline: "We're a little anxious about the storm surge so we came down to see what the river is doing now".
It's unclear exactly how many people evacuated, but more than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to clear out.
Power outages are widespread, affecting over 740,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and 163,000 in SC.
The now Category 1 storm's intensity diminished as it neared land, with winds dropping to 90 miles per hour (135 kph) by nightfall.
More than 3,000 inmates at North Carolina prisons and juvenile detention centers were moved out of the storm's path.
In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door to door to pull more than 60 people out as the Triangle Motor Inn began to crumble. And a woman suffered a heart attack Friday and emergency responders were not able to get to her in time, said Tom Collins, Pender County emergency management director.
On Friday afternoon, the city of Wilmington enacted a curfew from 10 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Saturday, Mayor Bill Saffo said.
Monica Scott, 34, of Wilmington, says she's keeping her fingers crossed that her home is fine.