The power company has warned that up to 3 million people could be left without power for an extended period of time following Hurricane Florence.
With one grueling day behind them, the Carolinas on Friday grappled with rising water and cascading misery from a deadly and agonizingly slow-moving Tropical Storm Florence expected to linger through the weekend.
Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.
Hundreds of people needed to be rescued after becoming trapped in their homes by a storm surge of up to three metres in New Bern, a town of 30,000 in North Carolina at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers. The downtown area was underwater.Calls for help multiplied as the wind picked up and tide rolled in, city public information officer Colleen Roberts said. Except - and we don't mean to jinx it - but the storm *is* heading further south from here and the wind did die down a bit so who is to say it didn't work entirely?
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed declarations of emergency for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, freeing up federal resources for storm response.
Waves from Hurricane Florence pound the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle North Carolina, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018.
"To those in the storm's path, if you can hear me, please stay sheltered in place".
Roy Cooper, governor for North Carolina, said: "The sun rose this morning on an extremely risky situation and it's going to get worse".
Duke Energy said Florence, a Category 2 storm, could knock out electricity to three-quarters of its 4 million customers in the Carolinas, and outages could last for weeks.
"And it's just a Category 1 hurricane", Tarr said.
North Carolina alone is forecast to get 36 trillion litres, enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 25 centimetres.
The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958. Nationwide, airlines cancelled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday.
More than 60 people, including many children, were evacuated from a hotel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse. "If God's coming for you, you can't run from him".
"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard, that trying to get out we got thrown into trailers". She retreated and was eventually rescued by a boat crew.
"Honestly, I grew up in Wilmington".