"Florence slowly weakening just inland over eastern SC but causing catastrophic flooding over North and SC", the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said early Saturday morning, after downgrading it from a hurricane to a tropical storm the previous day.
The NHC said Florence had the potential to dump historic amounts of rain on North and SC, as much as 40 inches (one meter) in some places. In the state's Pender County, a woman died of a heart attack; paramedics trying to reach her were blocked by debris.
At least five people, including a mother and her child, have been killed as Florence brings unending rain and storm surges to the region.More news: Clashing with Trump, California governor says to launch climate satellite
"Flash flooding will be extreme and flood waters will come up quickly and seemingly out of nowhere", the governor said earlier.
"We are expecting several more days of rain", Governor Roy Cooper said.
Nearly 20 inches of rain has already fallen.More news: United Nations ups fight against deadly Zimbabwe cholera eruption
Firefighters and rescue crews in Wilmington, North Carolina stopped to pray outside the house where a fallen tree killed a mother and her 8-month-old baby.
Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said over 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon. "These are folks who are maybe in one-story buildings and theyre seeing the floodwaters rise".
New Bern resident Dan Eudy said he and his brother were awakened on Thursday night by the sound of a boat ramming against his front porch. In Craven County, authorities say they received more than 150 telephone calls to rescue people in the historic town of New Bern because water had entered their homes. This is a 500- or 1,000-year event.More news: Jamie Murray: Serena Williams' sexism claims 'far-fetched'
The White House said President Donald Trump was to visit hurricane-hit areas next week "once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts". By Friday evening, the eye of the storm had moved to SC. Gradual weakening is expected overnight and significant weakening is expected this weekend into next week as the storm moves farther inland. The homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.