In places like New Bern, where the water has already receded, people are beginning to assess damage and clean up.
Hurricane Florence has come and gone through North and SC, but its heavy rains and storm surge have caused significant flooding in cities and towns across the region.
"If the river rises to the level they say it's going to, then this warehouse is going to be under water".
He said residents should "expect flooding and potential landslides tonight and into Monday", and warned against driving in the water "no matter how confident you feel or how much you want to get out of the house".
"Many rivers are still rising, and are not expected to crest until later today or tomorrow".
Florence's merciless deluge has already killed 18, trapped hundreds and made parts of North and SC impassable - and authorities say the worst flooding is yet to come. Mangkhut weakened from a typhoon to a tropical storm as it moved deeper into southern China on Monday.
North Carolina Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSunday shows preview: Trump faces fallout after Manafort flips Live coverage: Trump court pick on the hot seat in day two of hearing Patient groups say GOP bill on pre-existing conditions is insufficient MORE (R) said earlier Sunday that the storm has caused billions of dollars of destruction already as it continues to makes its way through the state.
An additional 5-13cm of rain is expected with isolated areas of 20cm possible through Tuesday in the Carolinas and Virginia.
"The storm has never been more unsafe than it is right now", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference.
More than 900 people were rescued from rising floodwaters and 15,000 remained in shelters in the state, Cooper said.
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A 3-month-old baby boy whose North Carolina mobile home was split by a falling pine tree is among at least 17 deaths linked to Florence.
The coastal North Carolina city of Wilmington, population 117,000, is so deeply submerged that no one could get in Sunday.
Rescue crews negotiated downed trees and power lines to reach stranded residents, Mayor Bill Saffo told WHQR radio.
While the risk of land and rock slides in the western part of the state have dissipated, Cooper said, roads in the eastern part of the state remain unsafe.
Officials urged those who had evacuated to stay away. "Do what you need to get ready for this one more time".
Florence peaked at a terrifying Category 4 with top winds of 140 mph over warm ocean water before making 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.
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Gas stations were abandoned and fallen trees made many roads impassable.
About 509,000 homes and businesses were without electricity on Monday in North and SC and surrounding states.
At least 17 people have been killed.
The flooding soon spread into SC, swamping places like North Myrtle Beach, in a resort area known for its white sands and multitude of golf courses.
Relief: Susan Hedgpeth hugs her dog as they evacuate in Lumberton, North Carolina. "But they will. And the question is how high will the water be, and we do not know".
By Sunday morning Florence's winds had dropped to about 35 miles per hour (55 km per hour), the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.
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A woman and her baby were among the first casualties when a tree fell on their house, contributing to a death toll that U.S. media said had reached 13 - 10 in North Carolina and three in SC, according to CNN.