Although the hurricane has been reduced to category 1, its stall and massive size pose a threat of long durations of rain and wind.
Power outages from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall Friday morning in North Carolina and SC, have topped 945,000 customers. "I stayed here. I'd been through so many hurricanes", said Balance, who added that six sheriff's officers came to his house to rescue him Friday morning, but he didn't need to leave since the tides and river were receding. "We all know that". "We're ready. We're as ready as anybody has ever been".
Florence remains a Category 1 storm, and it's spinning hurricane-force winds up to 35 miles from its center.
The center of the hurricane will reach Horry County some time Friday evening, but tropical storm force winds can already be felt in the state.
Ken Graham, the NHC's director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path.
According to a report from the J.P. Morgan Chase Institute, extreme weather events like the one now battering the Carolinas and Virginia can have far-reaching effects on consumers' wallets, impacting their spending for months after the storm has cleared.
As Florence raged, a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico brought heavy rain to already saturated areas along the Texas coast, resulting in street flooding and prompting some schools to cancel or cut short classes.
The Associated Press Flooding caused by Hurricane Florence covers blocks of Front Street in downtown New Bern on Friday. "We were able to evacuate quite a few; some did not go", he said.
Some of the city's roads are passable, but many remain impassable due to high water levels.
"Rescue workers are working in unsafe conditions that will only get worse today", he said. Areas from Wilmington through Fayetteville to Charlotte will experience 500-year to 1,000-year flood events, he said. Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of the Carolinas.
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.
"We've got nearly 20,000 people in 157 shelters", Cooper said.
The city of 29,000 that's near the North Carolina coast is surrounded by two rivers on the east and south.
It was initially unclear how many people ended up being rescued. But it was clear that this was really about the water, not the wind.
If the water starts to rise again, she says, she'll head upstairs and wait for it to recede again.
North Carolina Emergency Management advised residents Friday morning that "If your power goes out, do NOT operate gas powered generators or charcoal grills in or near your home".
The storm surge that has hit New Bern is "approximately 2 feet higher" now than it was during Hurricane Irene seven years ago, the National Weather Service office in Morehead City says.
Officials have warned against entering attics, unless people have a means to cut through to the roof to avoid drowning.
At the Wilmington airport, the wind was measured at 105 miles per hour - the highest since 1958, Cooper said.
Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore.
The National Hurricane Center says the tempest remains extremely unsafe because of the high volume of rainfall and predicted storm surges, even though its wind speeds lowered slightly on Thursday night, making it a category one hurricane.
As it moves inland, the storm is expected to bring its high winds and intense rain bands across the southeastern corner of North Carolina and a large chunk of SC.