Officials in South Carolina's Craven County say conditions are much worse than some residents expected, with almost 500 people calling the local emergency services hotline asking for help.
Top winds were holding at 90 miles per hour - that's just a Category 1 hurricane - but some communities were already submerged in more than six feet of water as the storm drenched the coast.
In New Bern, the picturesque riverfront town and birth place of Pepsi, where the Neuse and Trent rivers meet, incoming Mayor Sabrina Bengel said hundreds had been rescued after residents began calling before daybreak as waters rose to rooftops.
Still, climatologists say it's hard to directly attribute a single weather event to climate change.
More than 1.7 million people evacuated this week, leaving behind homes, schools and precious belongings.
One of the rescuers in New Bern was Jason Weinmann, a retired Marine who has a military troop transport vehicle he bought at a government auction.More news: Despite guilty plea, Paul Manafort still holds the Trump card
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"In Harvey, vibration from wind caused [one] to register rain", said hydrodynamics branch chief Robert Holmes.
Clyde Cain, the Admiral of the Louisiana Cajun Navy, told WWL that local first responders would handle all calls for rescue and evacuation.
"There's already water (in the) bottom part of people's houses", Todd Willis, who lives in Kennel Beach, North Carolina, said Thursday night. "Some of the people who are calling had pre-existing medical issues that needed assistance and some calls are from people who were trapped in attic or homes". By 3 p.m., more than 15.5 inches had accumulated in Moorehead City, the National Hurricane Center reported. She died Friday morning. "These were waves crashing down". Numerous evacuees took their pets. As Cooper said, "There's nowhere for the water to go". The water never made it to his home.
New Bern, the city where Pepsi was invented in a drugstore, was still experiencing winds in the 70 miles per hour range Friday afternoon.
"We're helping out a lot of people today", says Craven County Emergency Services spokesperson Amber Parker.
In the port city of Wilmington, residents awoke to the sound of power transformers blowing up, plunging homes into darkness as Hurricane Florence's howling winds whipped through the streets sending metal signs, water and debris flying. "If you've ever doubted the destructiveness of a hurricane, what's happening here will make you a believer". Through noon Friday, 96 stores in the Carolinas and one in Virginia were closed because of the storm. A spokesperson for the ABC affiliate said that roads around the building were flooding.