A day after Florence blew ashore in North Carolina with 90 miles per hour winds, more than 2 feet of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 1½ feet by the end of the weekend. When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina with record rainfall, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell - and combined with high tide, made for risky flooding.
He also reminded people the bulk of storm-related deaths occur from drowning in floodwaters.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm would dump as much as 76-102 cm of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC, as well as up to 25 cm in southwestern Virginia.
Storm in "violent grind" across state -N. Fifty-seven people died - including 35 in North Carolina - mostly due to flooding.
A fourth person was killed while plugging in a generator in Lenoir County, north of Wilmington, WITN-TV reported.
The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.
Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.
Here come twins! A Military couple evacuating from Hurricane Florence had a lifechanging moment. Cpl.
The tropical storm's maximum sustained winds are holding steady, remaining at around 50 miles per hour, with higher gusts in heavy rainbands over water, the NWS said.
So far: almost 32.5 inches (82.5 centimeters) of rain was reported in Oriental, North Carolina. Other communities got well over a foot (30 centimetres).
The North Carolina Baptist Men's organization planned to begin soon moving kitchen equipment inland, where they expect to prepare 85,000 meals a day when all its feeding operations are up and running.
'Time running out' for residents to escape Hurricane Florence
Some 38cm (15in) to 64cm (25in) of rain is forecast in some areas - with up to one metre (40in) at the centre of the storm. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued in coastal area of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
In Wilmington, high winds blew transformers, plunging the city into darkness.
The National Hurricane Center described Florence's path as a wobble around southeastern North Carolina.
National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said radar and rain gauges indicated some areas got as much as 2½ feet of rain, which he called "absolutely staggering".
The city of about 29,000, which was founded in the early 1700s and was briefly the state capital, is near the North Carolina coast and is bordered on the east and south, respectively, by two rivers.
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. It tore roofs and facades off buildings and toppled trees. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines.
"The water is rising fast everywhere, even in places that don't typically flood", he said. They had heeded officials' warnings that the storm was treacherous, with record-setting rains and storm surges not seen in North Carolina in decades.
Downtown New Bern, on the Neuse River also is flooded.
"If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible", Mayor Mitch Colvin said at a news conference. "It's making it hard for us to move valuable resources to areas in need".
The guard has mobilized over 100 members and 35 shallow-water rescue boat teams. "We face walls of water".
Schoolteacher Leslie Ochoa said she and her family loaded up 10 adults, 5 children, 14 goats, 10 dogs, two cats and one guinea pig and evacuated from Jacksonville, North Carolina to Columbia, South Carolina last Tuesday.