By 5 a.m., about 200 people had been rescued from flooded homes in New Bern, where the National Weather Service reported 10 feet of inundation. "It's not anywhere", North Carolina governor Roy Cooper said on Saturday.
Florence's intensity has diminished since it roared ashore along the United States mid-Atlantic coast on Friday as a hurricane.
The city of Jacksonville's statement says people have been moved to the city's public safety center as officials work to find a more permanent shelter.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU" - that's what the city of New Bern, North Carolina, tweeted after hundreds of people needed rescue from rising waters from the Neuse River, and a TV station had to evacuate its newsroom in the middle of its hurricane coverage. He said parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges - the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane - as high as 10 feet (3 metres). Authorities expect the death toll to rise in the coming days.
Wilmington Police confirmed that a mother and her infant died when a tree fell on their home. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man died when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.
A woman in Hampstead, in Pender County, died of an apparent heart attack after emergency crews could not clear debris to get to her.
Tropical Storm Florence keeps drenching the central Carolinas and is expected to generate up to 380 millimetres of rain before it swings north over the Appalachian Mountains and into the Ohio Valley on Monday.
But the wind is not the main threat to people and property from the storm; it's thestorm surgeandrainfall, which combined have caused serious flooding in the low-lying coastal regions of the Carolinas.More news: Jamie Murray: Serena US Open sexism claims far-fetched
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Mr Cooper said: "North Carolina Emergency Management experts have been sharing flood mapping with local officials". "We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns". Electricity remained out for much of the city, with power lines lying across many roads like wet strands of spaghetti.
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.
Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 964,000 customers in that state and SC. Thursday, a CNN team in the area watched as the water spilled over the edge of the river and flooded Union Point Park in a matter of hours.
In a separate briefing, Steve Goldstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said some areas have already received two feet of rain and could expect up to 20 inches more as the system moved "slowly, almost stationary" over eastern North Carolina. Florence "will produce catastrophic flooding over parts of North and SC for some time", NOAA official Steve Goldstein said Saturday morning.
A speed boat sits wedged in bushes in the parking lot of a waterfront hotel in New Bern, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018. "Nobody expected this", a rescued resident, Tom Ballance, toldThe Weather Channel.
Zooming out to the full projection, shown above, the core of the storm is slated to enter North Carolina around 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
23 aviation rescues, and counting.
The story, which is no longer the top story on the site, falsely states the Myrtle Beach authorities announced they were done responding to emergency calls until conditions improved.
60 primary roads have been closes, with more closures expected.