Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m.at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
But that, combined with the storm's slowing forward movement and heavy rains, had Gov. Roy Cooper warning of an impending disaster.
On Friday, the storm surge knocked out the power for a half-million homes and businesses as it barreled into the East Coast.
According to the NHC's forecast discussion at 12 p.m. on September 13: "The subtropical ridge to the northeast and east of Florence is now well-established between Bermuda and the US mid-Atlantic region and extends westward into Virginia and the central Appalachians".
"We've rescued over 100 people in New Bern, N.C.; people from Jacksonville, N.C., had to rescued from a hotel", Cooper said, describing efforts to save people in towns north of Wilmington where high floods have already hit.
Atlantic Beach was receiving winds of roughly 65-75 miles per hour as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, according to a Fox News report. Wake County is now under a flash flood watch. "We were anxious about the hurricane, had it continued to be as strong as what they were originally stating".
"And when the tide comes back up around noon, we will be inundated with additional storm surge", she said. We have steps on the sides of the house so it's a few feet off the ground anyway.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU", New Bern city officials said on Twitter.
Issac is expected to slowly drift through the eastern and central Caribbean waters through the weekend, not too far from Jamaica, but won't be much of a threat.
None of the people rescued were injured.
"Heavy rain has been occurring in and around Oriental, North Carolina, where 20.37 inches of rainfall has been measured thus far", the National Hurricane Center said in an update.
With the brunt of the storm yet to come, a gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, a city near the coast, was already recording 10 feet (3 meters) of inundation, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
"Because of the slow movement of the storm, the rain is going to have plenty of time keep piling up", said Feltgen.
"A storm surge warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline".
More than 1.7 million people in Virginia, North and SC were told to evacuate ahead of Florence's arrival.
Life-threatening storm surges, landslides and unsafe winds are also hitting the region as up to 40 inches of rain falls.
The Miami-based center says Florence is bringing "catastrophic" fresh water flooding over a wide area of the Carolinas.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Edisto Beach South Carolina to South Santee River South Carolina.
The Pentagon has dispatched two ships and a Marine unit offshore to provide help if needed.
Rescue helicopters and trucks that can navigate floodwaters are also standing by.
More than 60 people had to be pulled from a collapsing motel at the height of the storm.
Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however. "If you're called to go, you need to go".
The police chief of Wrightsville Beach suggested that those who made a decision to stay give him their next-of-kin contact information.
The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity. On Friday, he applauded the efforts of emergency responders.
FEMA's first priority after Florence passes will be getting infrastructure that's critical to communities' well-being up and running, Long said.
U.S. Rep. George Holding, of Raleigh, told FOX Business Channel Thursday that Florence could leave parts of North Carolina without power into October.