Sarah Risty-Davis, who was born and raised in New Bern, told NPR's Morning Edition that she saw high floodwaters until the early morning but that the water has mostly receded in her neighborhood.
More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm, and many more who defied evacuation orders held out hope of being rescued.
More than 415,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks the nation's electrical grid.
More storm surge can be seen outside a home in Belhaven, North Carolina in this video from Amy Johnson.
What the hurricane "has now lost in terms of maximum wind speeds near its center, it has now gained in terms of sheer expansiveness", said Peter Mullinax, a meteorologist at Planalytics. I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth.
More than a million people fled the Carolinas and Virginia as Category 1 Hurricane Florence neared.
At that time, Florence was a Category 1 storm but has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. "I'm not sure if it's a shift in the wind or low tide - but the water has miraculously disappeared".
By Friday morning, the North Carolina coastal town of Atlantic Beach had already received 30in (76cm) of rain, the US Geological Service said. Other communities got well over a foot.
Power outages increased throughout Friday.
In the days leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Florence, North Carolina's governor offered a series of dire warnings.
About 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians have been deployed, with high-water vehicles, helicopters, and boats.
Authorities warned, too, of the threat of mudslides and the risk of an environmental disaster from floodwaters washing over industrial waste sites and hog farms.
He said 20,000 people were being housed in shelters across the state.More news: Winds, rain intensify as Hurricane Florence pummels North Carolina
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National Weather Service forecaster Brandon Locklear said North Carolina is likely to see eight months of rain in two to three days.
Florence is expected to dump about 18 trillion gallons of rain over a week along its entire path, enough water to fill more than 65,000 Empire State Buildings, Mr Maue calculated.
While a few tornadoes will also be a possibility in eastern North Carolina today.
The hurricane has torn buildings apart and knocked out power to more than 600,000 homes and businesses. The few cars out on a main street in Wilmington had to swerve to avoid fallen trees, metal debris and power lines.
-Intensity: Florence came ashore with top winds of 90 miles per hour (145 kph), below the 111 miles per hour (178 kph) threshold for a "major" hurricane but still extremely unsafe.
Airlines cancelled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday.
Federal officials say they don't want people to fear going to shelters.
Downtown New Bern, on the Neuse River also is flooded.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", the city of New Bern tweeted earlier Friday.
"We moved all the furniture up in case the water comes in but the water seems to be staying at the edge of the driveway", he said, adding that if the wind picks up and the rain keeps coming, that could change. "It's very hard to say at this point". "We've had it reported to where it's over mailboxes, to the stairs of homes, even at first, second floors to where people are having to get on their roofs".
"Honestly, I grew up in Wilmington".
The third death happened in Hampstead, Pender County when a woman had a medical emergency and EMS crews could not get to her due to the storm, according to Tom Collins, Director of Emergency Management.