Florence diminished from hurricane strength as it came ashore on Friday, but forecasters said the 350-mile-wide storm's (560 km) slow progress across the two states could leave much of the region under water in the coming days. As they had throughout the week, he and officials went through a litany of updates: at the time, 12,000 citizens filled the 126 shelters that had opened across the state and 30,000 residents had already lost power.
Only two of the 61 shelters were at capacity Thursday.
Winds were already picking up along the coastline early Thursday and some minor flooding was reported on the Outer Banks, barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, and in some seaside coastal towns.
At 6 miles per hour, Florence is taking its time making it to shore, but it's already causing life-threatening storm surges and bringing hurricane-force winds to the North Carolina coast.
"We're keeping some people late until about 8 o'clock tonight in case things happen, and then we're bringing the next shift in, and they'll be here through the night", he said. "It can still kill you".
Elsewhere, storm surge is expected to reach heights of anywhere between 0.6 and 2.75 metres.
Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 100 miles per hour winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend.
He said hurricane-force winds extend outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extend almost 200 miles out.
Mr Cooper's office said the current emergency declaration was helping state officials prepare for the storm.
"We're estimating we've rescued 150-200", New Bern Police Lt. David Daniels said early Friday morning, who estimates an additional 150-200 are waiting to be rescued. River flooding, power outages and road closures likely will extend well into next week.
Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk and that enabled it to pile on the rain.
Preparing for the worst, about 9,700 National Guard troops and civilians were deployed with high-water vehicles, helicopters and boats. Some areas could receive as much as 40 inches (one meter) of rain, forecasters said.
Young, who heads the Western Carolina University program in partnership with Duke, has been studying the coast on many front including helping coastal communities plan for sea level rise and hurricanes.
The NHC warned the threat of tornadoes was increasing as Florence neared shore and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the heavy rain could trigger landslides in the west of his state. Brian Wierzbicki, with U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va. Except - and we don't mean to jinx it - but the storm *is* heading further south from here and the wind did die down a bit so who is to say it didn't work entirely?