It tore roofs and facades off buildings and toppled trees.
"We face walls of water at our coasts, along our rivers, across our farmland, in our cities and in our towns".
Shaken after seeing waves crashing on the Neuse River just outside his house in New Bern, restaurant owner and hurricane veteran Tom Ballance wished he had evacuated.
The figure included a woman and her baby killed when a tree fell on their house.
Five people are known to have died as the massive weather system knocked down trees, flooded rivers, and dumped sheets of rain in the Carolinas. A 78-year-old man was electrocuted attempting to connect extension cords while another man died when he was blown down by high winds while checking on his hunting dogs, a county spokesman said.
In South Carolina, a 62-year-old woman died when her auto hit a tree that had fallen across a road in the town of Union. The crews tried to move the debris with a front loader, but a tree went through the windshield, causing further delays, the officials said.
If Florence doesn't wipe out oceanfront homes on stilts along the Carolinas coast, rising sea levels will. Florence lashed low-lying barrier islands that experience some of the fastest rates of sea level rise observed anywhere in the world, almost an inch (2.5 centimeters) a year. "Be extremely careful and stay alert".
About a million customers in the two states are without power, the New York Times reports.
Munich Re's Rauch said about 30 to 50 percent of storm damage is usually insured in the United States but often less than 10 percent in developing countries, meaning nine-tenths of the people hit will end up shouldering a bigger economic burden. But Florence has been a odd one since it materialized in the distant Atlantic and took an unusual path toward the mainland United States.
Strong winds and heavy rain continue to present a danger, and Florence is now being attributed to several deaths.
"We've been here for most of my life and this is the first time its gotten that high", said Brittany Krowek, a North Carolina resident.
The coast has been battered, and the mountains appear to be next.
The death toll from Hurricane Florence rose to eight on Saturday, local media said.
Tropical storm-force winds stretched up to 150 miles (240 kph) from the storm's center.
"I can not overstate it: flood waters are rising". And there could be 10 inches (25 cm) in south-western Virginia. Flash floods can materialize within minutes of intense rain as the water rushes down hillsides.
The page says service animals aren't barred from evacuation shelters, beaches shouldn't be used for sand bags, and evacuation orders aren't enforced by FEMA. "That's why we've been preaching to people that you have to get away from the water".
The story, which is no longer the top story on the site, falsely states the Myrtle Beach authorities announced they were done responding to emergency calls until conditions improved.
Non-profit groups are preparing to serve tens of thousands of meals daily in the most-damaged areas, while state and federal emergency officials are locating temporary housing, including hotel rooms, for storm victims in the weeks or months that they're displaced. The flash flooding could devastate communities and endanger dams, roads and bridges.