But the storm was shaping up as a two-part disaster, with the second, delayed-action stage consisting of inland flooding, caused by rainwater working its way into rivers and streams.
On Sunday, Florence claimed a 14th victim, a man who drowned when a pickup truck flipped into a drainage ditch in SC, and a 15th, after a pickup truck veered off a road and struck an overpass support beam in SC. Major flooding has made roads impassable thoughout New Hanover County, and some 600 roads in the state were under water on Sunday, including a huge stretch of I-95 from north of Fayetteville north to US 64.
Florence has shattered North Carolina's record for rainfall from a single storm, with more than 30 inches having fallen already. 'And numerous rivers will see prolonged flooding, some not cresting for a few days'.
The photos above show the striking contrast of some of the most affected locations before and after Florence brought heavy rains, storm surge and damaging winds. Radar showed parts of the sprawling storm over six states, with North and SC at the centre.
In North Carolina, rivers rose to record levels and more people have been asked to evacuate as authorities worry another round of flooding could come in the next few days.
As it made landfall on the United States southeast coast on Friday, Florence buckled buildings, flooded entire communities and left more than 900,000 homes and businesses without power.
Members of the North Carolina Task Force urban search and rescue team wade through a flooded neighborhood looking for residents who stayed behind as Florence continues to dump heavy rain in Fayetteville, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018.
"All roads in the state right now are at risk of floods", he said.
Officials said three people had also died in separate, weather-related traffic accidents in SC. Tens of thousands were ordered evacuated from communities along the state's steadily rising rivers - with the Cape Fear, Little River, Lumber, Waccamaw and Pee Dee rivers all projected to burst their banks.
-23-year-old Michael Dalton Prince died Sunday after the truck he was riding in lost control on a flooded two-lane road in Georgetown County, South Carolina, said Coroner Kenny Johnson.
About 800,000 people across two states were without power yesterday.
The storm killed at least 11 people in North Carolina, including a mother and child hit by a falling tree, state officials said.
A tiresome, leaden sky was hanging over the town of Grifton, North Carolina on Sunday morning.
As authorities rescued people by boat and even airlifted 50 stranded people in North Carolina, there were also reports of looting.
"I'm not going to waste my time". "If those shelters fill up, we will establish more shelters", Cooper said.
The Neuse River, both near Goldsboro and Kinston, North Carolina, will reach major flood stage late Sunday and into Monday.
Torrential rain from Florence is now causing rapid rises in area rivers. In the neighbouring town of Trenton, downtown streets were turned to creeks full of brown water.