Today the threat becomes a reality.' More than 12,000 were in shelters in North Carolina.
Former hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Florence has claimed a 14th victim: a man who drowned when a pickup truck flipped into a drainage ditch in SC. But South Carolina wasn't entirely spared: Myrtle Beach was hit with more than 7 inches of rain.
"Our roads are flooded", he said.
"There are no roads. that are leading into Wilmington that are passable because of the flooding that is taking place now inland", Saffo said. A woman and her infant were killed when a tree fell on their home in Wilmington; a woman died in Pender County after suffering a medical condition and large trees blocked roads to her home; two people died in Lenoir County; and three were killed in Duplin County in separate incidents when the cars they were in were washed away in high water, authorities said. He told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Florence's combination of heavy rainfall, extreme storm surge and high winds makes the storm "one for the record books".
Heavy rains bands are still coming onshore in eastern SC and North Carolina on Sunday morning. The governor's office said a man was electrocuted while trying to connect extension cords in the rain.
Police guarded the door of another store and only 10 people were allowed inside at a time.
Outlaw says officials are "urging residents to stay inside and to not travel", especially so as to not interrupt utility workers trying to restore power. The 30.59 inches that have fallen in Swansboro sets a new record for North Carolina.
New Bern, North Carolina, Mayor Dana Outlaw told "Meet the Press" on Sunday that officials remained "very concerned" about additional flooding and trees still toppling.
The head of the USA government's disaster relief agency says Florence is unfortunately delivering the damage that was predicted as it sweeps across the Carolinas. "We also surmised the storm was not going to be near as severe as it was".
Long says the agency's immediate focus is on search-and-rescue efforts and meeting the needs of people who are in shelters.
In North Carolina, fears of what could be the worst flooding in the state's history led officials to order tens of thousands to evacuate, though it wasn't clear how many had fled or even could.
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Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said 63-year-old Mark Carter King and 61-year-old Debra Collins Rion were killed by breathing in carbon monoxide.
Florence has dropped a tremendous amount of rain in eastern North Carolina, with a widespread 20 to 30 inches already reported.
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.
"These rainfall amounts will produce catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding", the center said. An elevated risk of landslides is now expected in western North Carolina. Farther along the Cape Fear River, grass and trees lining the banks were partly submerged.
The Neuse River - both near Goldsboro and Kinston, North Carolina - will reach major flood stage late Sunday and into Monday.
At 2300 EDT (0300 GMT), the NHC said Florence had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 km), and was slowly drifting westward over SC.
Tropical Storm Florence is expected to weaken into a depression soon but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over significant portions of the Carolinas.
The rain was unrelenting in Cheraw, a town of about 6,000 people in northeastern SC. It has top sustained winds of 40 miles per hour (65 kph) and is moving west at 6 miles per hour (9 kph).
After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90 miles per hour (145 kph) winds, Florence virtually parked itself much of the weekend atop the Carolinas as it pulled warm water from the ocean and hurled it onshore. Hundreds of water rescues have been carried out by local authorities, Cajun Navy volunteers and the U.S. Coast Guard since Friday morning. The storm, which is headed towards SC, is forecast to drop heavy rain for days, and officials warned Saturday that the flooding was only just starting.
The death toll from the hurricane-turned-tropical storm has now climbed to 11.