More than a day after Florence's eye passed through southeastern North Carolina, a slower, and potentially more destructive threat emerged: pounding rains and a storm surge that pushed rivers over their banks, overflowing into small inland towns.
Rainfall also is swelling waterways: Meteorologist Ryan Maue of weathermodels.com calculated that 34 million people in the US are forecast to get at least 3 inches of rain from Hurricane Florence, with more than 5.7 million people probably getting at least a foot of rain.
The NWS says southern and central portions of North Carolina into far northeast SC are expected to report an additional 10 to 15 inches of rainfall - with storm totals between 30 and 40 inches along the coastal areas south of Cape Hatteras.
Electricity remained out for much of the city, with power lines lying across many roads like wet strands of spaghetti. He said the gust was the strongest recorded in Wilmington since 1958.
Florence is projected to migrate at barely more than a walking pace across northern SC, passing close to the city of Florence - truly - on Saturday.
As of 8 p.m., Florence was centered about 65 miles (100 kilometers) east-southeast of Columbia, the SC capital, crawling west at 2 mph (4 kph) - not even as fast as a person walking.
North Carolina is bracing for what could be the next stage of the still-unfolding disaster: widespread, catastrophic river flooding from Florence.
More than 800,000 homes and businesses have lost power and Mr Cooper said the danger from flooding would linger for days.More news: Aggies more valuable than Longhorns
Homes have been washed away by storm surge or made unlivable by standing water, fallen trees or other debris.
On Thursday, Florence was a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with 120-mph winds (193 km).
"This storm is relentless and excruciating", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told CNN late on Friday.
Florence has already set a North Carolina record for rainfall totals, exceeding that of Hurricane Floyd, which struck in 1999 and caused 56 deaths.
Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as 10 feet (3 meters).
A mother and baby were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington.
"Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm", Cooper said in a statement.
United States media say 12 people have died as a result of the storm. A 78-year-old man connecting extension cords in the rain was electrocuted, according to Roger Dail, the Lenoir County director of emergency services.More news: Springbok players ratings - versus the All Blacks
Water from the Neuse river floods the houses during the pass of Hurricane Florence the town of New Bern, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018.
Officials in New Bern said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.
With flood waters advancing rapidly in many communities, stranded people were being rescued by boat and by helicopter, while tens of thousands of others hunkered down in shelters.
New Bern's mayor said 4,200 homes were damaged in the city.
Some local residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit early on Friday.
Heavy rain is also in the forecast, with estimates showing over 20 inches near Jacksonville and toward New Bern.
The slow-moving storm is still dumping colossal amounts of rain on North Carolina and parts of northern SC.
In a subsequent settlement with federal regulators, Duke agreed to plead guilty to nine Clean Water Act violations and pay $102 million in fines and restitution for illegally discharging pollution from coal-ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants. The town of Oriental, North Carolina, got more than 20 inches (50 centimetres) just a few hours into the deluge.More news: Human case of West Nile virus identified
Northern South Carolina and southwestern Virginia: 5 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches.