Forecasters believe the biggest danger right now is the water, not the wind.
"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard, that trying to get out we got thrown into trailers".
Hurricane Florence has barrelled into the Carolina coast and moved inland, knocking down trees, overflowing rivers, dumping sheets of rain and leading to the death of five people before it was downgraded to a tropical storm still capable of wreaking havoc.
As of 3 a.m., Florence hadn't moved and was still centered about 35 miles (55 kilometers) east of Wilmington, North Carolina.
As of 1 p.m. ET, more than a foot of rain had fallen in many towns in southeastern North Carolina.
"The slower it moves, the longer these rain bands take", National Hurricane Center Ken Graham warned.
The effects of Hurricane Florence can already be felt along the coast of North Carolina as of 12 p.m. on September 13. The risky storm surge caused damage and flooding.
Cooper said Florence was set to cover nearly all of North Carolina in several feet of water.
On the mainland in New Bern, authorities said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods and that the downtown area was underwater.
More than 2,700 people took refuge at shelters, according to Horry County Spokesperson Kelly Moore.
"Stay in place. People are still being rescued in coastal North Carolina".
In New Bern, Sarah Risty-Davis is one of the residents who opted not to follow a mandatory evacuation order that was issued three days ago.
"When we run the model ... that's our counter-factual world, without climate change", Reed said. The agency adds that people trapped by flooding should "never enter attics or crawl spaces".
With Hurricane Florence pummeling the Eastern Seaboard, reporters are shooting outdoors in storm-drenched areas to show viewers at home just how serious the storm is.
A wind gust at the Wilmington airport was clocked at almost 170km/h, the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.
Rising water is seen at a park as Hurricane Florence comes ashore in New Bern, N.C. North and SC are expected to face storm surges and flooding.
With one grueling day behind them, the Carolinas on Friday grappled with rising water and cascading misery from a deadly and agonizingly slow-moving Tropical Storm Florence expected to linger through the weekend. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm will travel through the SC upstate, be downgraded to a tropical depression then turn north toward Ohio.
Tropical Storm Florence is continuing to drop torrential rain across the state as the system moves into SC.
The Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina yesterday began to flow over its banks, triggering flooding as waters continued to rise from torrential rainfall.