This nightmare called Tropical Storm Florence is far from over.
The barrier island of Emerald Isle is under water, with ocean waves rolling in over a six-foot storm surge and crashing into homes.
In an update published at 5:33 a.m. ET on Saturday, the agency said that the storm is now striking SC and has a path through the in-land charted for the next few days. Its forward movement was 6 miles per hour (9 kph).
As of Saturday morning, the National Hurricane Center predicted the storm's maximum sustained winds are up to 50 miles per hour, leaving almost a million people without power.
"The main thing right now is to get this water pumped down" from the city, he said.
Officials found a basketball-sized hole in the hotel wall and other life-threatening damage, with some cinder blocks crumbling and parts of the roof collapsing.
Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats that could be used to pluck people from the floodwaters.More news: Israel dismantles protest shacks near West Bank village marked for demolition
With tropical storm-force winds swirling 350 miles wide, Florence continued deluging the Carolinas on Saturday morning after pushing surging seas far ashore.
Blowing ashore with howling 90 miles per hour (155 kph) winds, Hurricane Florence splintered buildings, trapped hundreds of people and swamped entire communities along the Carolina coast Friday in what could be just the opening act in a watery, two-part, slow-motion disaster.
Florence flattened trees, crumbled roads and knocked out power to more than 840,000 homes and businesses, and the assault wasn't anywhere close to being over, with the siege in the Carolinas expected to last all weekend.
In Wilmington, a city of about 120,000 on North Carolina's Atlantic coastline, along the Cape Fear River that is home to historic mansions, streets were strewn with downed tree limbs and carpeted with leaves and other debris.
Screaming winds bent trees toward the ground and raindrops flew sideways as Florence's leading edge moved in for an extended stay along the coast. Areas from Wilmington through Fayetteville to Charlotte will experience 500-year to 1,000-year flood events, he said.
That kind of scenario is likely to repeat itself all over communities in Eastern North Carolina, as swollen rivers flood towns and the pouring rain adds to the misery. "We didn't know where to go", she said.
"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".More news: World Cup champion goalie Hugo Lloris pleads guilty to drunken driving
A man was killed when plugging in a generator, according to a release from Gov. Roy Cooper's office.
And while North Carolina is susceptible to all of these usual threats that breed in waters left behind by a major storm, the state is also vulnerable to an additional unique - and unpleasant - set of problems. Another 400 people were in shelters in Virginia, where forecasts were less dire.
Prisoners were affected, too.
The storm was expected to move across parts of southeastern North Carolina and eastern SC on Friday and Saturday, then head north over the western Carolinas and central Appalachian Mountains early next week, the NHC said.
More than 800,000 customers in North Carolina were without power and 21,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters across the state. More than 1 million people are under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders, with more than 10 million people under storm watches or warnings.
An abandoned car's hazard lights continue to flash as it sits submerged in rising flood waters on Saturday morning after Florence struck Wilmington, N.C. It happened in the coastal town of Swansboro.
The center of the storm is hovering over eastern SC, after making landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday.More news: Flood waters rise as Florence pummels Carolinas; at least eight dead
State emergency officials said Thursday they had no way of tracking how many residents from the Carolinas had escaped to Florida this week.
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