To rescue as many animals as possible. So far, they have rescued 60 people who were trapped in a motel.
Florence is now a tropical storm sitting over the Carolina coasts and moving slowly inland and south, causing life-threatening storm surges and potentially "catastrophic freshwater flooding" according to the National Weather Service.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the hurricane was likely to "continue its violent grind for days" and described the severity of the downfalls as a "1,000 year event". The Neuse River rose rapidly, overcoming the streets of New Bern.
"I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth", said Ballance, owner of a seafood restaurant that was flooded. The hurricane hit early Friday morning, and by afternoon the winds slowed from 90 miles per hour to 75 miles per hour.
The storm originally made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday morning as a category one hurricane.
Numerous roads were closed, and authorities warned of the risk of landslides, tornadoes and flash floods, with dams and bridges in peril as rivers and creeks swelled.
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.
There are 62 industrial hog farms within North Carolina's 100-year floodplain, environmentalists estimate, and Duke Energy Corp has four coal ash sites in the coastal area touched by Florence.
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Watch Hurricane Florence Make Landfall in This Incredible Space Station Video
Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane with 120 miles per hour winds on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore. More than 485,000 homes and businesses were without power in North and SC early on Friday , utility officials said.
Climate change could be playing a role in slowing down storms like Hurricane Florence, resulting in more rainfall and flooding when they hit.
The city of about 29,000, which was founded in the early 1700s and was briefly the state capital, is near the North Carolina coast and is bordered on the east and south, respectively, by two rivers.
Heavy rains: Up to 18 trillion gallons falling on seven states over seven days, as much water as there is the entire Chesapeake Bay. "That is a lot of rain and all that rain runs off into the rivers and we've been talking about this - there is elevation as you get further west into North Carolina". It tore roofs and facades off buildings and toppled trees.
Eudy and his family stayed home in New Bern in part to protect their house. Traffic lights out of order because of power failures swayed in the gusty wind. Gusts reached over 100 miles per hour - the highest recorded in North Carolina since 1958. Airlines canceled more than 2,400 flights through Sunday.
Protected: 12,000 people in shelters in North Carolina, 6,400 in SC and 400 in Virginia. The number of people still not rescued fell to about 40 by Friday afternoon, according to New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw. "I said, no I got to go". "We are stuck in the attic". She tried to row out of her neighborhood Thursday night with a boat that was in her yard after her home began to flood, but had to retreat because of the poor conditions.
"The wind was so hard, the waters were so hard, that trying to get out we got thrown into trailers". She said that count is expected to increase significantly.
"We are saddened by the sudden passing of one of our community, and our hearts go out to the family and friends who are now grieving during such an already stressful period", Amanda Hutcheson, the Brunswick County Government public information officer wrote in an email.