With more than 2 feet of rain having already fallen in coastal areas, and with drenching rainfall forecast for days to come in the western mountains, officials weighed additional evacuations.
Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm but flooding and heavy rain are still a danger to residents of the Carolinas, weather officials say. "We still have about 100 that want to be rescued and we have about 1,200 in the shelters", Mayor Dana Outlaw told CNN.
In New Bern, at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers in North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000. Dozens more were pulled from a collapsed hotel.
Florence flattened trees, damaged buildings and crumpled roads.
The NWS says southern and central portions of North Carolina into far northeast SC are expected to report an additional 10 to 15 inches of rainfall - with storm totals between 30 and 40 inches along the coastal areas south of Cape Hatteras.
The figure included a woman and her baby killed when a tree fell on their house.
The Weather Channel on Friday defended a meteorologist who was captured bracing against the wind while two people appeared to stroll casually behind him during a report on Hurricane Florence.
Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as 10 feet (3 meters).
As of 2:00 pm (1800 GMT), maximum sustained winds had weakened to near 45 miles (75 kilometers) per hour, but the NHC warned residents of unsafe storm surges and "catastrophic flooding". This comes a day after 90 miles per hour winds and torrential rain came down on North Carolina, making rivers rise to record levels.
"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard that, trying to get out, we got thrown into trailers".
There is the potential for 40 inches of rain to fall in some areas across Northern and Southern Carolina. Because Florence is moving so slowly, he said, it will dump more rain than Mangkhut, which is named for the Thai word for the mangosteen fruit.
The rest of SC into western North Carolina and southwest Virginia is expected to report 5 to 10 inches of additional rainfall, with isolated cases of 15 inches. Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate and the flooding for the next few days can be the most destructive in the state's history.
Water could reach as high as 5ft in some areas.
Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence Sept. 14, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina.
Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of environmental havoc from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms. They later clarified those deaths were not related to Florence.
It is forecast to crawl through SC into Saturday before turning west and then north across the western Carolinas and toward the Ohio Valley by Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay, or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches of water.
He added that 20,000 people were being housed in shelters across the state.
"I don't see any portion of the state of North or SC that's not going to be impacted in some way", said Cline. "You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU".