The hurricane was also deadly, killing five people.
The storm's first casualties, which included a mother and her baby killed when a tree fell on their brick house in Wilmington, North Carolina, were announced about eight hours after Florence came ashore. "The father was transported to (New Hanover Regional Medical Center) with injuries".
The body of a 77-year-old man, also in Kinston, was found by his family at his home, and it is believed he died when he was blown down after going outside to check on his hunting dogs, Dail said.
The storm was about 35 miles east of Wilmington, N.C., and about 50 miles southwest of Morehead City, N.C., the National Hurricane Center's 2 a.m. EDT Friday advisory said.
The enormous storm crept at a 6 miles per hour pace, making it clear that the trouble was just beginning. And she has seen reports of people fleeing to rooftops to escape high floodwaters.
A woman named Bree tweeted: "If anybody could help. our cars is under water and so is our house stuck in attic".
Some towns have received more than 2 feet of rain from Florence, and forecasters warned that drenching rains totaling up to 3½ feet of water could trigger epic flooding well inland through early next week.
It has trapped people in flooded homes, with citizen swift-water rescue teams from out of state joining local emergency professionals around the clock to try and bring them to safety.
"It has slowed", he said. "We're going to have to have patience, we're going to have to be careful and we're going to have to deal with a lot of water".
Florence crashed ashore Friday morning in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, and it has wiped out power to about 950,000 customers in that state and SC.
But the size of the storm meant the path didn't really matter.
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Power outages increased throughout Friday.
SC newspaper Greenville News reported the Cape Fear river overflowed on Friday afternoon and the marina near Wrightsville Beach, where Florence made landfall, had also risen to swamp nearby parking lots, docks and streets.
In Wilmington, the storm tore down numerous trees when its centre tore through the area on Friday morning.
Evacuation warnings were issued for 1.7 million people in the region.
Cooper called Florence the "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities.
Video reports from several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through rippling thigh-high floodwaters in residential neighborhoods.
"Gradual weakening is forecast while Florence moves farther inland during the next couple of days, and it is expected to weaken to a tropical depression by tonight".
Major river flooding expected to continue into early next week. As Cooper said, "There's nowhere for the water to go". It said there will be "flooding miles and miles inland". Areas from Wilmington through Fayetteville to Charlotte will experience 500-year to 1,000-year flood events, he said.
"We've got nearly 20,000 people in 157 shelters", Cooper said.
"And since we're already on high ground, those two things together kind of help insulate us a little more than, I would say, others", she said.