More than 2 feet of rain already had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on as Florence, a hurricane-turned-tropical storm, practically parked itself over the two states.
Florence had been a category three hurricane with 120mph winds as of Thursday, but dropped to a category one hurricane before coming ashore.
Hurricane Florence has begun battering it's way through the North Carolina coastline with heavy rain and high winds in what people fear could lead to the deaths of "a lot of people".
The wind howled and sheets of rain splattered against windows of a hotel before dawn in Wilmington, where Sandie Orsa of Wilmington sat in a lobby lit by emergency lights after the power failed.
"This is going to be a very trying period for the state", he said."We're liable to have flash floods, bridges and roads washed out". They had heeded officials' warnings that the storm was treacherous, with record-setting rains and storm surges not seen in North Carolina in decades.
With tropical storm-force winds swirling 350 miles wide, Florence continued deluging North and SC on Saturday morning after pushing surging seas far ashore. At least five deaths are connected to the storm. Water rescues were also underway, although it was hard to know how many had occurred.
There have been "several hundred" rescue operations, Governor Cooper said.
A tornado watch was issued for eastern North Carolina.
With tropical storm-force winds swirling 350 miles wide, Florence continued deluging the Carolinas on Saturday morning after pushing surging seas far ashore.
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A hilarious video which has gone viral on Twitter with over 10 million views shows a weatherman seemingly struggling to stand in high winds during Hurricane Florence - even as two men walk calmly behind him, apparently unaffected.
Five people have died due to the ex-hurricane, which was downgraded to a tropical storm, including a mother and her baby killed when their house was hit by a tree. The child's injured father was hospitalized.
Pender County Emergency Management Director Tom Collins confirmed to WWAY that a woman was killed in Hempstead, Pender County after suffering a heart attack in her home.
Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it's unclear how many did.
In Kinston, more than an hour's drive inland from the coast, Lenoir County spokesman Bryan Hanks said a man was electrocuted as he attempted to connect extension cords outside in the rain.
The rest of SC and North Carolina into southwestern Virginia will experience 5 to 10 inches, with isolated totals up to 15 inches.
Storm surge was as high as 10 feet on the Neuse River, he said. In Craven County, authorities say they received more than 150 telephone calls to rescue people in the historic town of New Bern because water had entered their homes. About 400 people have been rescued.
Eudy said his family stayed in their home partly to protect their house.
"In Harvey, vibration from wind caused [one] to register rain", said hydrodynamics branch chief Robert Holmes. About 210,000 people were staying in 170 shelters in the Carolinas.
About 20,000 people hunkered down in 157 schools, shelters and a coliseum in Winston-Salem.