And cameras aboard the International Space Station managed to catch incredible footage just a few minutes after the storm's landfall.
Myrtle Beach area residents checking the weather Saturday morning were led to believe that local emergency personnel had suspended services due to Tropical Storm Florence, but that was never the case.
The National Hurricane Center said the storm would dump as much as 30 to 40 inches (76-102 cm) of rain on the southeastern coast of North Carolina and part of northeastern SC, as well as up to 10 inches (25 cm) in southwestern Virginia.
Forecasters said Florence's surge could cover all but a sliver of the Carolina coast under as much as 11 feet (3.4 meters) of ocean water, and days of downpours could unload more than 3 feet (0.9 meters) of rain, touching off severe flooding.
In New Bern, along the coast, aerial photos show homes completely surrounded by water, with rescuers using inflatable boats to go house to house to remove people. Crews from the city and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were working with citizen volunteers to get people to dry ground, Roberts said.
A tree that fell on a house, killing two people, is seen during Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on September 14, 2018.
"And we're not done yet", Graham said, adding that some hard-hit areas could get an additional 15 to 20 inches because the storm was moving so slowly.
"We know people are anxious to go back".
At 2 p.m. EDT (1500 GMT), the hurricane center said Florence had maximum sustained winds near 45 miles per hour (75 km per hour) and continued to produce catastrophic flooding in the Carolinas.
Hurricane Florence closes in on USA east coast
Geological Survey said, while more than 25 inches have fallen in the Newport, Morehead City area since Thursday. Emergency workers monitor hurricane progress at the Emergency operations centre in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Officials from Cumberland County, Fayetteville and the town of Wade issued the order early Saturday afternoon, saying residents there face "imminent danger" from flood waters expected to arrive in the area soon.
"It's a big task, because our main priority is protecting lives", Jon Ingram, the Brunswick County, North Carolina sheriff, said on Saturday during an interview with FOX Business' Neil Cavuto.
Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 miles per hour (110 kph), and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just 3 miles per hour (6 kph).
Almost 814,000 homes in North Carolina and 170,000 in SC are without power.
Two people died in Wilmington after a tree fell on their house, the city's police department said. But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster. It blew ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
The White House said President Trump will tour areas affected by Florence next week, once it is determined that his visit will not disrupt rescue and recovery operations. It was downgraded to Category 1 before coming ashore on Friday near Wrightsville Beach, near Wilmington.
"The slow motion of the storm will make this a very prolonged flood event", Reid Hawkins, science officer for the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, said in a briefing.
Cooper said nearly all the buildings in town, including homes and businesses, are going to be fine.
The Navy says nearly 30 Virginia-based ships and 128 aircraft sent away from their bases in the Hampton Roads-area because of now-Tropical Storm Florence have been given the go-ahead to return.