Blowing ashore with howling 90 miles per hour (155 kph) winds, Hurricane Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster.
"We are expecting several more days of rain, and our focus now is getting people away from immediate danger", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said as the relenting storm puttered slowly west near the SC border. Numerous roads were closed, and authorities warned of potential landslides, as well the possibility of flood waters imperiling dams and bridges as rivers and creeks swelled.
Crews from the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency were working with citizen volunteers to get people to dry ground, Roberts said.
A couple of tornadoes are still possible through Sunday in North Carolina and northeastern SC, the NHC said.
60 primary roads have been closes, with more closures expected.
And weather officials said more is coming, labeling as "extreme" the impacts from storm surge and flash flooding.More news: Springbok players ratings - versus the All Blacks
National Hurricane Center meteorologist Joel Cline said the mountains will wring water out of the moist tropical air: "It's like running into a wall, and that moisture has to go somewhere, and it goes up, creates rain, and you have torrential rain in that area".
Florence will then turn back towards the eastern USA coast, making its way to Pennsylvania by 2 a.m. ET Tuesday.
Florence plowed into the Carolinas, knocking down trees, gorging rivers, dumping sheets of rain as it lumbered slowly inland before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.
To prevent those routes from being flooded, cutting off Horry County and virtually turning the Myrtle Beach area into an island, transportation officials plan to build a mile-long barrier along the Lynches River to keep US 378 passable.
Officials in SC said a 61-year-old woman died when her vehicle struck a tree that had fallen across a highway near the town of Union.
The national meteorological center says southern China "will face a severe test caused by wind and rain" and urged officials to prepare for possible disasters.More news: Human case of West Nile virus identified
The parts of the country still in the storm's path have been saturated by summer rains and can not soak up any surplus from Florence.
In New Bern, at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers in North Carolina, Florence overwhelmed the town of 30,000, with the downtown area under water. Some area residents described a harrowing retreat as the storm hit.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters that five deaths have been officially confirmed in his state, with several more under investigation.
SC authorities said law enforcement officers were guarding against looting in evacuated areas.
At 11 a.m., Florence was centered about 20 miles southwest of Wilmington, North Carolina, and about 55 miles east-northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She tried to row out of her neighborhood Thursday night with a boat that was in her yard after her home began to flood, but she had to retreat because of the poor conditions.
In New Bern, along the coast, aerial photos show homes completely surrounded by water, with rescuers using inflatable boats to reach people.
Trump, who plans to visit the region next week and he tweeted his "deepest sympathies and warmth" to the families and friends of those who had lost their lives.More news: Meghan Markle birthday well-wishers receive thank you cards from duchess
Kevin Knox and his family were rescued from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sgt. Johan Mackie, whose team used a phone app to locate people in distress.