Even as the winds abated, the waters rose.
"This system is unloading an epic amount of rainfall: in some places, measured in feet, not inches".
Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore in North Carolina with howling 90mph winds and terrifying storm surges on Friday, splintering buildings and trapping hundreds of people in high water as it settled in for what could be a long and extraordinarily destructive drenching. "We got thrown into mailboxes, houses, trees", said Holt, who had stayed at home because of a doctor's appointment that was later canceled.
Though Florence's shrieking winds diminished from hurricane force as it came ashore, forecasters said the sheer size of the 350-mile-wide storm and its painfully slow progress across North and SC in the coming days could leave much of the region under water. New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Charlotte Observer about 200 people already had been rescued by 5 a.m. Officials said some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate, but it was unclear how many did.
New Bern has been one of the hardest hit areas by Florence, experiencing a 10-and-a-half-foot storm surge.
Firefighters in North Carolina took a moment to kneel and pray at the site where a mother and baby were killed by a tree that fell down during Hurricane Florence. Local media said she suffered a heart attack. Hanks said a fourth person died while checking on his hunting dogs, and authorities believe he was blown over by the wind.
Already, Ingram said they've arrested five people on suspicion of trying to break into abandoned cars, homes and businesses in Brunswick County, which is located along the shore just north of Myrtle Beach.
But officials said at least 140 were still waiting for rescue.
"Great job FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement - not easy, very unsafe, tremendous talent".
The Federal Emergency Management Authority said motorists should not attempt to drive through floodwaters.
A sailboat is shoved up against a house and a collapsed garage September 15, 2018, after heavy wind and rain from Florence, now a tropical storm, blew through New Bern, North Carolina.
The National Hurricane Center downgraded it to a tropical storm on Friday, but warned that life-threatening storm surges - in which water is pushed by a storm over land that would normally be dry - catastrophic freshwater flooding were still expected.
The military announced Saturday it was deploying almost 200 soldiers to assist in storm-related response and recovery efforts, along with 100 trucks and equipment.
In New Bern, along the coast, aerial photos show homes completely surrounded by water, with rescuers using inflatable boats to go house to house to remove people.
A day after Florence's landfall in North Carolina, water is shaping up to be the storm's deadliest impact - and the rains will only keep coming as flood damage mounts.
Evacuation orders have been lifted in several coastal SC counties as Florence continues to dump rain on the state.
The rest of SC into western North Carolina and southwest Virginia is expected to report 5 to 10 inches of additional rainfall, with isolated cases of 15 inches.
In Wilmington, near where the eye of the hurricane touched down, trees and power lines were down and many windows had been broken.
With rain pounding relentlessly, the streets were deserted.