"Wherever you live in North Carolina, be alert for sudden flash floods".
"We were able to get into the air and see significant damage in eastern North Carolina", Cooper told reporters at a press conference Sunday.
Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds its way across land.
"This storm is still deadly and unsafe and it's expected to turn northward later today into Virginia and the mid-Atlantic", he said. Dozens more were rescued from a collapsed motel.
More than 800,000 customers in North Carolina were without power and 21,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state.
Florence flattened trees, buckled buildings and crumpled roads.
About 532,338 customers in North Carolina and 61,000 in SC don't have power.
"We understand that many peopleare anxious to return homeor visit property they have down east", Abbott said in an email Monday morning.
Floodwaters surround homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Newport, N.C., Monday, Sept. 17, 2018.
One of the hardest hit cities in North Carolina was New Bern, a riverfront city not far from the coast.
"We still have no water and power, so I'm happy to help if I can, there's nothing else to do", he said.
In Lumberton, North Carolina - a city submerged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 - residents are bracing for disaster as the Lumber River seeps through a patched-up gap in the levee system. They don't have electricity themselves and many of their windows are still boarded up.
Florence weakened to a tropical depression, but flooding worries continue from the Carolinas to Virginia. "Feels great. The water's really cool".
The center 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.
Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill - sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain.
An official curfew is in place in Wilmington following looting in the area.
"A lot of people have evacuated already", said Denise Harper, a resident of Grifton, a small North Carolina town threatened by rising water levels in a nearby creek and the River Neuse.
Florence could become a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence had the potential to dump historic amounts of rain on North and SC, as much as a meter in some places.
Around 50 stranded people were airlifted by helicopter in North Carolina, said Petty Officer Michael Himes of the US Coast Guard. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimeters) of water, he calculated.
The issue is so severe that North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon warned out-of-staters to avoid driving through North Carolina. But officials said the state's many lagoons of toxic hog waste had so far withstood the storm.
"And when that flooding gets here, it can last up to 10 to 12 days or longer, from what we are being told". But many more people need help. "So we are trying to get it dried out, so we can... get open and get everything squared away", said restaurant owner Raymond Karem.
The mother managed to free Kaiden from his vehicle seat and escape the auto, but her child was quickly swept away in the deluge. I was in one in Wilmington yesterday that had something like 400 cars waiting in line to fill their tanks and their canisters.