As of Friday afternoon the storm had already claimed four lives, including a mother and her baby who were killed when a tree fell on their house in Wilmington, North Carolina.
A 78-year-old man was electrocuted at a home on Silver Smith Circle in Kinston early Friday morning while trying to connect two extension cords outside in the rain.
The third death happened in Hampstead, Pender County when a woman had a medical emergency and EMS crews could not get to her due to the storm, according to Tom Collins, Director of Emergency Management.
"Catastrophic fresh water flooding" is expected in parts of both the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center said late on Friday local time.
Gibson said Friday that while she and her family were safe, she and her husband had gotten around 75 calls and texts from others asking for help. "That is a lot of rain and all that rain runs off into the rivers and we've been talking about this - there is elevation as you get further west into North Carolina".
Baker picked that shelter - one of the five shelters operated by New Hanover County, which so far have housed a total of more than 500 people - partly because it let him bring his cat. "We have started to see the water recede".
At least five people have been killed in North and SC by Tropical Storm Florence.
To compliment the supplies the government is giving evacuees, World Vision has also prepared hygiene kits that are filled with laundry soaps, toiletries, blankets, mosquito nets and plastic mats for the approximate 4,000 families fleeing the storm. Hurricane-force winds were extending out up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 195 miles, the center said.
Florence's top sustained winds remain at 70 miles per hour (110 kph) as it crawls west at just 3 miles per hour (6 kph).
Police said 150 to 200 residents have been rescued earlier on Friday and 150 or more were still awaiting rescue.
Power outages increased throughout Friday.
More than 2 feet (60 centimeters) of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 1½ feet (45 centimeters) by the end of the weekend.
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The Triangle is under a flash flood warning until 8 p.m. Sunday.
"The storm is wreaking havoc on our state, and we're deeply concerned for farms, for businesses, for schools and even for whole communities that might be wiped away", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, D, said.
He urged residents not to return to their homes to check the damage to their property.
It was expected to slowly move southwest into SC before turning north, forecasters said.
"It's an uninvited brute who doesn't want to leave".
Storm surge was as high as 10 feet on the Neuse River, he said. In Belhaven, the rising Pungo River almost swallowed the first floor of a house.
"Our preparation is now having to turn to determination and we're going to work hard to recover and recover quickly", Cooper said.
Emergency crews were stretched thin.
As a response to the extreme conditions, about 9,700 National Guard troops have been deployed to carry out rescue operations.
Roads are particularly bad in Pamlico and Craven counties, with major and secondary roads flooded, according to Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon. "This is a 500- or 1,000-year event".
An ominous tweet appeared on a historic North Carolina community's Twitter feed about 2 a.m. Friday.