Authorities expect the death toll to rise in the coming days.
Storm surges - the bulge of ocean water pushed ashore by the hurricane - were as high as 10 feet (3 meters). Heavy rains will continue to fall in the Carolinas and heavier rains are expected to spread into western parts of North Carolina, in addition to some parts of eastern Tennessee and eastern Georgia, Doll said.
John Rose owns a furniture business with stores less than a mile from the river. He moved quickly as workers helped him empty more than 1,000 mattresses from a warehouse in a low-lying strip mall. "More than likely it's maybe a mindset of 'we've been through this before, '" he said. Ponds had begun to overflow, and creeks passing under the highway churned with muddy, brown water.
In Washington, North Carolina, the wind-swept Pamlico River has risen beyond its banks and is flooding entire neighborhoods.
She said she called 911, but no one came.
Fayetteville's city officials, meanwhile, got help from the Nebraska Task Force One search and rescue team to evacuate some 140 residents of an assisted living facility in Fayetteville to a safer location at a church.
A day after Florence blew ashore in North Carolina with 90 miles per hour winds, more than 2 feet of rain had fallen in places, and the drenching went on and on, with forecasters saying there could be an additional 1½ feet by the end of the weekend.
"Flood waters are rising, & if you aren't watching for them, you are risking life".
Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line. Its winds were down to 40 miles per hour.
Power outages mounted until almost 700,000 customers were in the dark in North Carolina alone.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city tweeted around 2 a.m. Friday. The storm was once a powerful Category 4 storm but became a slow-moving Category 1 storm when it made landfall near Wrightsville, North Carolina, on Friday.
"With a storm like this, you have communities that are faced not only with the devastation that a storm like this will leave behind, but the environmental injustices that may have already been existing in those communities", Glover said.
Near the Sutton Power Plant in Wilmington, coal ash leaked from a Duke Energy landfill. The gray ash left behind when coal is burned contains toxic heavy metals, including lead and arsenic.
In New Bern, along the coast, homes were completely surrounded by water, and rescuers used inflatable boats to reach people Saturday.
Along coastal communities, people trapped in homes by relentless flood waters awaited rescue, and tens of thousands hunkered down in shelters after fleeing their homes as the storm approached.
Officials in New Bern, which dates to the early 18th century, said more than 100 people were rescued from floods and the downtown was under water by Friday afternoon.
The doors of many homes suffered so much wind damage they appeared to have been kicked in, while the city's beloved fiber-glass bear statues, which are sponsored by local businesses, were floating down streets.
Across the Trent River from New Bern, Jerry and Jan Andrews returned home after evacuating to find carp flopping in their backyard near the porch stairs.
Early Saturday, approximately 20 people were rescued near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, by military officials and delivered to the Piney Green Volunteer Fire Department before being transferred to Onslow County shelters.
A mother and a baby were the storm's first victims, who were killed Friday when a tree collapsed on their home in Wilmington, North Carolina.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster on Saturday announced the death of a 61-year-old woman who died when her vehicle hit a downed tree on a highway.