In New Bern, about 90 miles northeast of Wilmington at the confluence of two rivers, Florence overwhelmed the town of 30,000 and left the downtown area under water.
North Carolina's governor Roy Cooper said: "Know that water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood".
Stream gauges across the region showed water levels steadily rising, with forecasts calling for rivers to crest Sunday and Monday at or near record levels.
And to look at Florence specifically, "it's very likely that climate change has warmed the ocean such that the hurricane's intense rainfall is more destructive than without global warming", said Weather Underground Meteorology Director Jeff Masters, a former hurricane hunter.
The Philippines tends to get hit almost every year, the Carolinas far less frequently though with lots of close calls, Maue said.
Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
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The original death toll was put in double digits, but recently a new study placed the "official" count at just short of 3,000. "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico ", Trump tweeted early Thursday.
In Lenoir County a 78-year-old man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords and another man died after being blown away by high winds while checking on his dogs. It was downgraded from a hurricane late Friday, but not before bringing catastrophic flooding to the Carolinas.
There were 974,000 homes in the Carolinas without power on Saturday morning.
In New Bern, a riverfront city near the North Carolina coast that saw storm surges up to 10 feet (3 meters), authorities were rescuing stranded residents and taking stock of damages.
With the emergence of Florence, some place in the US has been drenched because of a stalled hurricane for four years in a row, storm surge expert Hal Needham said.
"This is one of the most devastating hurricanes we've ever had", Mayor Dana Outlaw told CNN.
Annazette Riley-Cromartie said she and her family thought they'd be safe in their brick house in eastern North Carolina.
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The Ravens defense shot themselves in the foot with penalties, committing four on third-down, three of which extended drives. But losing Mosley, who has missed just two games in his career, for any extensive stretch would be a major loss.
The National Hurricane Center said as much as 40in (102cm) was expected on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC.
"Residents should not let their guard down", North Carolina Emergency Management tweeted. We got thrown into mailboxes. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled.
"It's the worst feeling in the world to hear people yelling for help, and you can't do anything", she said.
"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm", Cooper said in a statement.
Hurricane Florence is an nearly impossibly rare threat. Duke Energy, the area's biggest utility company, said that figure could rise to three million and restoring power could take weeks. On Friday afternoon, it was traveling at just 3 to 5 miles per hour, still near the coast.
Cline said July was the wettest ever in that part of North Carolina, and the water table rose 21 inches higher than normal. The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, population 200,000.
Florence pours rain on the Carolinas; death toll at 7
In Jacksonville, a relentless band of heavy rain gutted buildings, drenched streets and left wildlife to battle the rising waters. At 5 p.m., Florence had been downgraded to a tropical storm , with sustained winds of 70 miles per hour .