"This rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned.
Morehead City, North Carolina, had received 23 inches of rain by Friday night, and forecasters warned on Saturday morning that parts of the Carolinas could get up to 15 inches more. The storm knocked out power to almost 930,000 homes and businesses, and the number could keep rising.
More than 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia were warned to evacuate over the past few days, and the homes of about 10 million were under watches or warnings for the hurricane or tropical storm conditions.
Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge whipped the Carolina coast on Thursday to begin an onslaught that could last for days, leaving a wide area under water from both heavy downpours and rising seas.
Roy Cooper called Florence an "uninvited brute" that could wipe out entire communities as it grinds its way across land.
"High winds and severe flooding from Hurricane Florence will impede the pace of our outage restoration efforts. Stay on guard", Gov. Cooper said. At least seven people, including a mother and an infant, were killed in the storm. "Today the threat becomes a reality".
At 8 a.m. Saturday, Florence stalled about 35 miles (55 kilometres) west of Myrtle Beach, moving forward at just 2 mph (4 kph), with top sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph).
Florence could bring wind-driven storm surges of seawater as high as 13 feet (4 meters) and NHC Director Ken Graham said on Facebook they could push in as far as 2 miles (3 km).
Hurricane Helene heading towards the United Kingdom , bringing chances of gale force winds
The centre of Isaac passed between Martinique and Dominica with maximum sustained winds of about 45 miles per hour . Florence remains a risky Cat 4 with max winds of 130 miles per hour with a NW movement of 15 miles per hour .
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Heavy rain in the Appalachians could cause devastating mudslides and rockslides across the mountain terrain.
This satellite image provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Florence off the eastern coast of the United States on Thursday, September 13, 2018.
The storm will be a test of President Donald Trump's administration less than two months before elections to determine control of Congress.
Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticised as slow and unprepared past year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.
"Hurricane Florence is powerful, slow and relentless", he said. St. Helena Island near the South Carolina-Georgia line is used to riding out big storms - from one that killed an estimated 2,000 people in 1893 to Tropical Storm Irma past year. "Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000". Trump doubled down Thursday morning, arguing without evidence that Maria's death toll estimate in Puerto Rico is wrong and calling it a plot by Democrats to make him "look as bad as possible".
Terrell said they've been forced to use air mattresses in place of boats, "which the winds were toppling and it was making it unsafe for us". So far, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and the Washington D.C. have all declared states of emergencies.
Businesses across the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia will likely suffer financial losses from the approaching storm, with ports closing, farmers moving their livestock and expected power outages that could last for weeks.
McMaster also said there may be water coming from rivers from North and SC, which could lead to flooding. Another woman died in Pender County after a tree fell on a house and emergency crews couldn't get to her quickly, said Chad McEwen, the county's assistant manager.