And on Saturday evening, Duke Energy disclosed that heavy rains had caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station outside Wilmington, North Carolina.
"We received significant rainfall, and that has led to countywide flooding", Cotton said.
More than 430,000 people in North and SC are without power, and water is rising along the coast, where people in some towns have experienced dramatic rescues due to the towering storm surge. Roughly 1.5 million people were ordered to evacuate in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia ahead of the storm, and authorities are warning those who left not to come back until the danger has passed. That's enough to fill the Chesapeake Bay, or cover the entire state of Texas with almost 4 inches (10 centimetres) of water.
North Carolina alone is forecast to get 9.6 trillion gallons (36 trillion liters), enough to cover the Tar Heel state to a depth of about 10 inches (25 centimeters).
A statue reaches above Florence's floodwaters in North Carolina. The National Weather Service office in Newport, North Carolina, (located on the eastern edge of Onslow County) recorded a storm total of 23.75 inches just after midnight. The county has a population of 325,000, about 20,000 in the riverfront county seat of Conway.
Flooding is anticipated in Charlotte, North Carolina - more than 200 miles inland - as well as Fayetteville and Columbia.
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Florence is forecast to "drop nearly double" the volume of rain over the state compared to Floyd, tweeted Ryan Maue, meteorologist for weathermodels.com.
Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph (225 kph) over warm ocean water before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles (kilometres) east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.
Tropical Storm Florence is continuing to dump risky amounts of rain as it continues its slow slog across the Carolinas.
"And we're not done yet", Graham said, adding that some hard-hit areas could get an additional 15 to 20 inches because the storm was moving so slowly.
Also of concern is the sprawling Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia and Marine Corps bases at Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point in North Carolina and at Parris Island in SC. Forecasters said it was expected to continue toward the Northeast, which is in for as much as 4 inches of rain, before the system moves offshore again.
About 488,551 of those power outages are in North Carolina, and 16,385 are in SC.
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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.
That's how hard the wind gusted in North Carolina's New River inlet.
Storm surges could reach 11 feet Saturday along coastal areas, particularly between Cape Fear and Cape Hatteras.
Hitting North Carolina on Friday, Hurricane Florence has slowed right down in its path, meaning the Carolinas are facing the brunt of the storm conditions.
With the eye of Florence stalled near the coast, the half of the storm still out over the Atlantic continued to collect warm ocean water and dump it on land. However, there remains a large amount of uncertainty in the ultimate track of what will become post tropical storm Florence.
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