Rains have been relentless, and Florence continues to dump a "catastrophic" amount of water in its path.
One man died after attempting to hook up a generator according to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's office. As all that run-off fills rivers, the damage will only worsen.
Meteorologists warned it might be days and weeks after Florence's direct hit before the town sees rising water levels. "The storm is wreaking havoc on our state".
Florence has landed in the Myrtle Beach area, bringing rain, wind and flooding.
More than 760,000 customers in North Carolina were without power and 21,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state. "It's been occurring all night".
The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday afternoon, but warned it would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and into the northeastern coast of SC in spots.
On Thursday, Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds (193 km).
Forecasters said that given the storm's size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.
Death toll from Florence rises to 7, North Carolina officials say
There have been seven storm-related deaths since Florence , then a Category-1 hurricane , made landfall Friday morning. Florence was downgraded to a Category 1 storm and further downgraded to a tropic storm on Friday evening.
"The slower it moves, the longer these rain bands take", National Hurricane Center Ken Graham warned.
City officials sent out an dramatic tweet about 2am Friday as rivers swelled, tides crested and the rain wouldn't stop, and people found themselves trapped in their homes as the water rose.
Nearly 20,000 people had taken refuge in 157 emergency shelters, Mr Cooper said.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump stands by tweets questioning Puerto Rico death toll: "NO WAY" Trump pushes back on ex-lawyer putting out book, cites "attorney-client privilege" Wealthiest Republican supporter in OH quits party MORE has approved a disaster declaration for North Carolina as the state deals with Tropical Storm Florence, the White House announced Saturday. Notice the lag in flooding; most rivers will begin to rise 48 to 72 hours after the storm exits the coast.
Boat teams including volunteers rescued some 360 residents, including Sadie Marie Holt, 67, who first tried to row out of her neighborhood during Florence's assault. More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury. Water rescues were also underway, although it was hard to know how many had occurred. He urged residents to stay inside and not get in the way of emergency workers.
"We're helping out a lot of people today", says Craven County Emergency Services spokesperson Amber Parker.
Four deaths were confirmed by officials as American media reported another, and the storm has wreaked havoc in the Carolinas, lashing the U.S. states with torrential rain and causing rivers to burst their banks. In addition to the flash flood and flooding threat, landslides are also possible in the higher terrain of the southern and central Appalachians across western North Carolina into southwest Virginia.
This story was compiled from McClatchy papers in North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer; and in South Carolina, The State in Columbia, the Beaufort Gazette, The Island Packet in Hilton Head and The Sun News in Myrtle Beach; and supplemented with wire service reports.