In Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 on North Carolina's Atlantic coastline, along the Cape Fear River that is home to historic mansions, streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC, as well as up to 10 inches (25 cm) in southwestern Virginia. As of Saturday afternoon, about 752,000 homes and businesses were without power in North Carolina, along with 119,000 in SC.
The monster storm could dump drenching rains of up to one meter.
"Flood waters are rising, & if you aren't watching for them, you are risking life".
Wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour were recorded in the Myrtle Beach area.
Here is the latest on the storm from Gray TV affiliate WITN out of Greenville, N.C.
Trinidadians in the Carolinas prepare for Hurricane Florence
Storm surge flooding also could push 2 miles or more inland if Florence lingers for days along the coast. Early Thursday footage showed stormy seas and dark skies, with an American flag whipping in the wind.
"The flood danger from storm is more immediate today than when it made landfall 24 hrs ago", North Carolina Emergency Management said on Twitter.
North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of the still-unfolding disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding from Florence.
Stream gauges across the region showed water levels steadily rising, with forecasts calling for rivers to crest Sunday and Monday at or near record levels. The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, population 200,000.
The Cape Fear River has overrun its banks, allowing water to pour into the downtown area of Wilmington. He moved quickly as workers helped him empty more than 1,000 mattresses from a warehouse in a low-lying strip mall. "If the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water", he said.
"To make this work, we have to build dams to hold the floodwaters back off the road and keep the road operational", Hall said Saturday.
"Remember: Most storm deaths occur from drowning in fresh water, often in cars", Gov. Cooper said.
The coal-fired Sutton plant was retired in 2013 and the company has been excavating millions of tons of ash from old waste pits and removing it to safer lined landfills constructed on the property. The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and mercury.
How the Waffle House is archaic to resolve a typhoon's fury
A representative for Waffle House did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. Meanwhile, Waffle House's main Twitter account had a message for the approaching storm: "Hey Flo".
One potential road out was blocked as flooding forced the shutdown of a 16-mile (26-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 95, the main highway along the Eastern Seaboard.
It's part of the same pattern that unfolded during Hurricane Katrina, when some 150,000 to 200,000 people remained in their homes despite federal evacuation orders, and during Hurricane Maria, which an independent study conducted by George Washington University recently revealed resulted in almost 3,000 deaths. Mackie rode in a boat through a flooded neighborhood, navigating through trees and past a fencepost to reach the Knox house.
"Amazing. They did awesome", said Knox, who was stranded with seven others, including a boy who was carried out in a life vest.
More than 100 people were rescued and up to 75 more were awaiting rescue on Saturday morning, according to a town official. But thousands of buildings were damaged in the destruction that Roberts called "heart-wrenching".
That's just the number of customers without power in the Carolinas.
The centre said the storm would dump as much as 40 inches (102 cm) of rain along coastal areas of the Carolinas, as well as up to 10 inches in southwestern Virginia.
Hurricane Florence is producing waves as high as 83 feet
Even if the system doesn't develop into a cyclone, it's expected to increase chances of rain in the area for Friday and Saturday. Computer models are in general agreement that Subtropical Storm Joyce will move northeasterly across the Atlantic towards Europe.