The department also reported that more than 2,600 swift water rescues have occurred in the state, by boat or helicopter alone. "It's worrying to watch the water slowly rising".
Preliminary statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed Florence had the fourth-highest rainfall total of any hurricane to hit the USA mainland since 1950, with 35.94 inches (91.2 centimetres) at Elizabethtown, North Carolina.
"Unfortunately we've still got several days to go", Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told Fox News. As much as 6 inches of rain was possible in parts of the region, the NWS said. "We ain't going to be able to do it by ourselves", he said.
The power and danger of slow-moving flood water isn't as easy to visually grasp as, say, a news reporter braving vicious winds to demonstrate the effect.
"This is an epic storm that is still continuing", Cooper told a news conference. "No more water, not even a drop, please".
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In North Carolina, flooding was so bad that officials Monday advised motorists not to travel "in southern, central and eastern parts of the state". Days of heavy rainfall have turned the surrounding farmland into soggy marshland.
About 467,000 customers were without service in North Carolina, including in the Wilmington area, which is surrounded by floodwaters and has been cut off.
With the rain pausing for the first time since Friday, local resident Logan Sosebee pulled out his kayak to carry food and supplies to those who need it on the other side of the flooded river.
"We're seeing this happen now and the result is not good", Cooper said. "But the current is insane". "I'm a bit anxious for my home".
A member of the North Carolina Task Force urban search and rescue team wades 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. "It was too unsafe to stay", Hammett said.
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The hurtling storm then skirted south of Hong Kong and the neighbouring gambling hub of Macau, before making landfall in China. Authorities had issued their maximum alert, warning residents to stay indoors and away from windows to avoid flying debris.
- A woman in SC died after striking a downed tree while she was driving.
The dead included a one-year-old boy who was swept away after his mother drove into floodwaters and lost grip on him as they tried to escape their auto. So far, several people have died after being swept up in the stormwaters, and falling trees have killed two small children. Officials warned people not to drive through floodwaters, even if they appear shallow.
"This storm has never been more unsafe than it is right now", warned North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
"The agriculture industry, the largest industry in our state is hard-hit".
"This community, the most marginalised and economically deprived in town, has been hit the worst". "This is about 25 miles south of the North Carolina state line". Fifteen thousand meanwhile were being housed in 158 shelters across the state.
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Crews have conducted about 700 rescues in New Hanover County, where more than 60 per cent of homes and businesses were without power, authorities said. "Driving is treacherous and flooding is impacting our ability to restore power".