And cameras aboard the International Space Station managed to catch incredible footage just a few minutes after the storm's landfall.
It all seems pretty bad, I mean, actually, real bad. Additional emergency personnel from 22 states have arrived in North Carolina to assist with the storm, including swift water rescue teams, emergency medical personnel, and others.
Even though Florence was downgraded to a tropical storm, it already has proven deadly with its almost nonstop rain, surging seawater and howling winds. This is a perilous moment for the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the roads to escape the storm's fury.
By 9:30 a.m., more than 500,000 customers were without power across North Carolina, and the Triangle had begun to experience outages. Their predictions call for moderate flooding at 43 rivers in North Carolina and SC within the next 12 hours. As Cooper said, "There's nowhere for the water to go". Workers are being brought in from the Midwest and Florida to help in the storm's aftermath, it said. Up to eleven-foot storm surges are expected, enough to overwhelm most of the homes here. The storm knocked out power to more than 890,000 homes and businesses, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the U.S. electrical grid. Hurricane force winds were being felt in an 80-mile radius from the center of the storm.
"We would recommend that people hold on to nonperishable items to be prepared for the next emergency, which could happen at any time of year", said James City County spokeswoman Renee Dallman.
Forecasters expect Florence to hit the Carolinas early in the morning on September 14.
Dawn Baldwin Gibson, 47, a minister and private school founder who lives on a farm closer to the coast in nearby Pamlico County and runs a Facebook page about weather in eastern North Carolina, had evacuated to New Bern to stay with family, thinking it would be a safer spot.
On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air. On Wednesday, officials said some of those shelters were at capacity, but in a statement early Thursday, county officials said they were "able to mobilize additional resources to accommodate the need for shelter space".
That said, the storm is still expected to stall once it hits the Wilmington coast, with weather officials early Thursday raising the expected total rainfall for Wilmington to 35 inches - weather officials had predicted 30 inches for Wilmington in briefings released Wednesday.
Forecasters said conditions will continue to deteriorate as the storm pushes ashore early Friday near the North Carolina-South Carolina line and makes its way slowly inland.
New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Durham Herald-Sun around 5am that about 200 people had been rescued so far. Three other Southern raceways also opened campgrounds to evacuees. State Sen. Danny Britt, R, put out a call on Facebook for volunteers to fill the sandbags and, with the help of 40 members of the National Guard, dam a railway channel that has been problematic during floods.
Weather Underground meteorology director Jeff Masters said Florence eventually could strike as a Category 1 with winds less than 100 miles per hour, but that's still enough to cause at least $1 billion in damage. "America is proud of you", Trump tweeted on Friday, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which responds to disasters in the United States.
"Our house is on high ground so we're not anxious about the flooding", he said.