There were no immediate reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries but more than 60 people, including many children and pets, had to be evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
The hurricane was downgraded to category 1 on Thursday, meaning its winds are at least 74 miles per hour strong.
NEW BERN, N.C. (AP) The Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles Saturday to rescue hundreds of people trapped by Florence's onslaught, even as North Carolina braced for what could be a fearsome new stage of the disaster: widespread, catastrophic inland flooding.
A woman named Bree tweeted: "If anybody could help. our cars is under water and so is our house stuck in attic".
Joy Maluyo, field and emergency communications officer at World Vision Philippines, told CTV News Channel on Friday that her family and colleagues there were already experiencing heavy rains and strong winds.
North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters). The destination for the crews is Camp McCrady, a National Guard training center in SC.
Climate scientist Michael Mann said that Florence is "a climatologically-amplified triple threat".
"This is not the first hurricane to hit North Carolina", said Curliss, who noted that many lagoons are at a low point across the state at this time of year.
But the size of the storm meant the path didn't really matter.
The storm knocked out power as it tore across the northern part of Luzon Island - an area which is home to around 10 million people, many of whom live in flimsy wooden homes.
Around 11 p.m. Friday, Florence was about 15 miles west-northwest of Myrtle Beach, SC, moving west-southwest at 5 mph, packing maximum-sustained winds of 65 mph.
Onslow County spokesman Cornelius Jordan said some visitors at the Triangle Motor Inn were able to drive away on their own, but emergency personnel had to take others to a safe location.
Firefighters in Wilmington gathered outside the house to pray for the family.
Power outages increased throughout Friday.
About 800 flights in the region were canceled ahead of the storm, CNN reported. The weather service warned that all coastal areas and tidally connected creeks, rivers, bays, and waterways are at risk of storm surge flooding. Residents mostly heeded police commands to stay home and off the streets.
The hurricane, now downgraded to a tropical storm, was blamed by authorities for at least five deaths as of late Friday.
"It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave".
Another factor, Berardelli said, is that with rising sea levels, storm surges increase. Flooding also hit the Bogue Sound near Beaufort, the Pungo River at Belhaven and the Pamlico River at Washington.
Calling the deadly storm a "thousand-year rain event", Gov Cooper continued: "The sun rose this morning on an extremely risky situation and it's getting worse".
Emergency crews were stretched thin.
SC authorities said law enforcement officers were guarding against looting in evacuated areas, while Wilmington set a curfew on Saturday evening in response to looting in one area.
As of Friday morning, the state was housing nearly 20,000 people in 157 shelters, Gov. Cooper told Steve Inskeep of NPR's Morning Edition.
Others who chose to stay at home perhaps regretted their decision.