Florence already has proven deadly with its almost nonstop rain, surging seawater and howling winds, and the threats are days from ending as remnants from what was a major hurricane swirl over the Carolinas.
The National Hurricane Center says the Neuse River near the city is recording more than 10 feet (3.05 meters) of inundation.
There had been three confirmed deaths from the storm and several others were being investigated to determine if they were storm-related, he said. Officials in South Carolina's Craven County say conditions are much worse than some residents expected, with almost 500 people calling the local emergency services hotline asking for help.
In Kinston, more than an hour's drive inland from the coast, Lenoir County spokesman Bryan Hanks said a man was electrocuted as he attempted to connect extension cords outside in the rain.
Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill - sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain.
In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door to door to pull more than 60 people out as the Triangle Motor Inn began to crumble.
The White House said President Trump will tour areas affected by Florence next week, once it is determined that his visit will not disrupt rescue and recovery operations.
"Great job FEMA, First Responders and Law Enforcement - not easy, very unsafe, tremendous talent. America is proud of you", Trump tweeted on Friday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which responds to disasters in the United States.
Forecasters say catastrophic freshwater flooding is expected over parts of North Carolina and SC ahead.
"We're deeply concerned for whole communities which could be wiped away". Rescue crews used boats to carry more than 360 people from rising water in the river town of New Bern, North Carolina, while many of their neighbors awaited help.
"It will not stop, this weather event of Florence", Begnaud said.
The reports came just hours after Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15am local time (11:30 GMT) at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington, as the centre of its eye moved onshore, the National Hurricane Center said.
Tropical Storm Florence keeps drenching the central Carolinas and is expected to generate up to 380 millimetres of rain before it swings north over the Appalachian Mountains and into the Ohio Valley on Monday.
Tornadoes are also a threat, with the NHC saying that "a few tornadoes are possible in southeastern North Carolina and northeastern SC".
In Wilmington, numerous trees that contributed to its historic beauty are now gone.
Hurricane Florence already has inundated coastal streets with ocean water and left tens of thousands without power, and more is to come.
"Our house is on high ground so we're not anxious about the flooding", he said.