The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday (September 15), then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.
Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.
At least five people have died as Tropical Storm Florence slowly crept westward over the Carolinas Saturday, dumping massive amounts of water on the region.
"Rivers are rising to unsafe levels, and the relentless rains will continue through the weekend", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned on Friday.
Warning of the storm's continued threat to life, Governor Roy Cooper said: "More people now face imminent threat than when the storm was offshore". The Little River, the Cape Fear, the Lumber, the Neuse, the Waccamaw and the Pee Dee were all projected to rise over their banks, flooding cities and towns.
The centre of the slow-moving storm, downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane after it came ashore Friday afternoon, was almost stalled over SC early Saturday, about 55 kilometres west of Myrtle Beach, moving west-southwest at just 8 km/h and scooping massive amounts of moisture from the sea.
Doll said that people living in low-lying areas next to streams, creeks and rivers, especially in farther inland areas, need to pay attention and evacuate in case rivers start flooding. It was downgraded Friday afternoon to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph (110 kph) before its core slogged into coastal SC hours later. It has 3½ times more storms that reach major hurricane strength of 111 miles per hour (178 kph), and three times more accumulated energy out of those hurricanes, an index that measures not just strength and number of storms but how long they last, according to more than 65 years of storm data.
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Zooming out to the full projection, shown above, the core of the storm is slated to enter North Carolina around 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. The storm knocked out power to more than 890,000 homes and businesses, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the USA electrical grid.
One of those was the Waccamaw River in South Carolina's Horry County, which had reached 8.9 feet by Saturday; it floods at 11 feet.
In general, south eastern sections of North Carolina like Wilmington and Fayetteville are at risk of flooding.
That's how hard the wind gusted in North Carolina's New River Inlet.
Members of the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force search a flooded neighbourhood for evacuees during Hurricane Florence in Fairfield Harbour, North Carolina.
Evacuations underway in North Carolina. The storm will dump rain in the Carolinas through the weekend.
"I don't see any portion of the state of North or SC that's not going to be impacted in some way", said Cline.