Swift-water rescue teams from out of state helped local rescuers evacuate people whenever conditions allowed.
There have been two fatalities in Kinston as a result of Florence, according to Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail. They tried desperately to return to their homes as the Neuse River overflowed its banks.
Police block a road as rain from Hurricane Florence falls in Wilmington, North Carolina on 13 September 2018. Electricity remained out for much of the city, with power lines lying across many roads like wet strands of spaghetti.
"The fact is this storm is deadly and we know we are days away from an ending", Gov Cooper said. As of 8 a.m. on Saturday the system was located about 35 miles west of Myrtle Beach, S.C. and was about 45 miles south-southeast of Florence, S.C.
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. But the hurricane had slowed to a crawl as it traced the North Carolina-South Carolina shoreline, drenching coastal communities for hours on end.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered ahead of Florence's landfall in parts of North and SC, though many people chose to remain in their homes for reasons ranging from financial concerns and the need to care for pets that they may not have been able to take to some evacuation shelters, some who stayed in their residences told ABC News ahead of the storm.
One was killed when connecting an electrical generator, and family members say another man was killed in a wind-related death when checking on dogs outside his property.
"Remember: Most storm deaths occur from drowning in fresh water, often in cars", he said.
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"Please be safe and be smart and use your common sense", Cooper added.
Florence's eye made landfall over the Wrightsville Beach water tower about 7:15 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Wilmington.
Florence drove almost 1 million people from their homes and almost 700,000 lost power.
As the United States dealt with Florence, a strong typhoon tore across the northern tip of the Philippines, killing at least three people, wrecking homes and triggering landslides before heading toward Hong Kong and southern China. The child's father was transported to the hospital with injuries. Paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.
For people living inland in the Carolinas, however, the moment of maximum peril from flash flooding could arrive days later, because it takes time for rainwater to drain into rivers and for those streams to crest.
Billy Sample, a resident stuck in the town of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, said Friday night: "The height of the storm didn't feel as bad as it is now".
At least 150 people were waiting to be rescued in New Bern, N.C., officials tweeted Thursday evening.
New Bern's mayor said 4,200 homes were damaged in the city. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit. Local media said she suffered a heart attack.
Forecasters say catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected over parts of North Carolina and SC ahead. Power outages are widespread including over 740,000 in North Carolina and 163,000 in SC. Few people had ventured out - most were heeding warnings from officials to stay inside. Trump plans a visit to the region next week.