And weather officials said more is coming, labeling as "extreme" the impacts from storm surge and flash flooding.
Roads became flooded, trees blown over and homes destroyed as some parts of North Carolina have already seen surges of flood water as high as 10ft.
Nakisa Glover, a National Climate Justice Fellow at Hip Hop Caucus based in North Carolina, said in a phone interview that while the mandatory evacuation orders might make "logical sense in theory, if you don't have the resources, you can't just leave your home in a lot of cases".
WILSON, N.C: Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, knocking out power and causing at least eight deaths as flood waters that have devastated many communities kept rising.
Florence flattened trees, buckled buildings and crumpled roads.
But it continued to warn of "catastrophic" flooding from excessive rainfall.
That's the new North Carolina record for most rainfall from a single tropical system.
A man sits on a park bench in a flooded park as the Cape Fear River rises above its usual height in Wilmington, North Carolina, on September 15, 2018. The resulting flooding forced swift-water rescues and left several people dead.
"This is one of the most devastating hurricanes we've ever had", Mayor Dana Outlaw told CNN.
Saffo said it could be longer than two weeks before power is fully restored.
The doors of many homes suffered so much wind damage they appeared to have been kicked in, while the city's beloved fibre-glass bear statues, which are sponsored by local businesses, were floating down streets.
Power outages are widespread, affecting over 740,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and 163,000 in SC.
WILMINGTON, N.C., Sept 15 (Reuters) - Tropical storm Florence lumbered inland on Saturday, knocking down trees, flooding rivers, and dumping sheets of rain in the Carolinas where five people have died. A woman died in Hampstead, North Carolina after having a heart attack.
With a plodding pace belying still-unspent fury, Tropical Storm Florence pushed deeper into the Carolinas on Saturday, inundating homes, toppling trees and pushing rivers far beyond their banks as rescuers rushed to keep pace.
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 Donald Trump would visit hurricane-hit areas next week "once it is determined his travel will not disrupt any rescue or recovery efforts".
The military announced Saturday it was deploying almost 200 soldiers to assist in storm-related response and recovery efforts, along with 100 trucks and equipment. They are part of Cajun Navy which is an informal volunteer group set up after Hurricane Katrina.
Florence was packing 120mph winds (193km/h) on Thursday but weakened from a Category 3 hurricane to Category 1 before it hit the coastline on Friday.
Zooming out to the full projection, shown above, the core of the storm is slated to enter North Carolina around 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
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.
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Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon looks on at a drill during the final day of training camp in Berea Tuesday. Through six seasons, Gordon appeared in 41 games, hauling in 130 catches for 3,106 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Trinidadians in the Carolinas prepare for Hurricane Florence
Hurricane-force winds extended 130km from its centre, and tropical-storm-force winds up to 315km. " Your time is running out ". Even if Florence were downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, it would still cause extensive damage , Abrams says.