In Fayetteville, a North Carolina city of about 210,000 people about 90 miles inland, authorities told thousands of residents near the Cape Fear River and Little River to get out of their homes by Sunday afternoon because of the flood risk.
The Florence center is crawling inland over SC, but its main rain bands are hitting already-saturated North Carolina - setting up what may be days of flooding for some communities.
Almost 814,000 homes in North Carolina and 170,000 in SC are without power. "More than likely it's maybe a mindset of 'we've been through this before, '" he said.
New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts said 455 people in all were rescued in the town of 30,000 residents without any serious injuries or deaths. The great danger now, experts say, is river flooding.
"If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin because the loss of life is very, very possible", Mayor Mitch Colvin said at a news conference.
The governor of North Carolina on Saturday, September 15 warned residents displaced by a killer storm against returning home because of the dangers posed by rising floodwaters.
More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.
Kevin Knox and his family were rescued from their flooded brick home with the help of Army Sgt. Johan Mackie, part of a team that was using a phone app to locate people in distress.
Heavy rains and storm surge created destructive flooding of several feet throughout the Carolina coast. "Don't drive across standing or moving water".
Florence was seen as a major test for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was heavily criticized as slow and unprepared previous year for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, where the death toll was put at almost 3,000.
The storm was also a factor in the death of a woman who suffered a heart attack since emergency crews couldn't reach her due to a fallen tree, as The Wall Street Journalreported.
A 78-year-old man in Kinston, North Carolina, was electrocuted when he tried to connect two extension cords outside in the rain, according to Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail.
The effects of Florence won't be fading anytime soon, either, as current forecasts have upwards of 15-to-20 additional inches of rain possible for areas of North and SC will Florence's remnants will linger for the next 48 to 72 hours. When Florence started battering eastern North Carolina, the Neuse and Trent rivers began to swell.
By midday, Florence had already claimed its first lives, when a tree crashed onto a home in Wilmington, North Carolina, killing a mother and her infant daughter.
View of Florence in Wilmington, N.C., on Friday.
The White House said President Trump had issued a disaster declaration for North Carolina a day earlier, freeing up funds for housing and home fix.
United States correspondent Cordelia Lynch, who is in New Bern, said: "This community in the weeks and months to come is up against a great deal of flooding".
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster urged patience, emphasizing that his state had never seen "a hurricane staying on top of us for this long". Trump planned a visit to the region next week.