Video below shows huge waves and storm surge crashing into a structure in North Topsail Beach.
Florence was slowly grinding over the eastern states, with winds of 65mph (105km/h).
Director Ken Graham says there is nothing "minor" about this hurricane.
Tropical Storm Florence dumped "epic" amounts of rain on North and SC as it trudged inland on Saturday, triggering unsafe flooding, toppling trees, cutting power to almost a million homes and businesses while causing at least five deaths.
The Navy says nearly 30 Virginia-based ships and 128 aircraft sent away from their bases in the Hampton Roads-area because of now-Tropical Storm Florence have been given the go-ahead to return.
Tornadoes also remain a threat, particularly in areas northeast of the hurricane's eye.
The outer bands of wind and rain from Hurricane Florence are moving onshore along North Carolina's barrier islands as the massive storm bears down on the Southeastern coastline.
McCarthy: No decision yet on Rodgers facing the Vikings
Jon Gruden said at his introductory press conference way back in January that he just wanted to coach football. Need more proof that "Chucky" was not playing? "We're still collecting all the information", McCarthy said.
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 (kilometers) east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line.
Adding to concerns, forecasters warned the larger and slow-moving storm could linger for days around the coast, leaving many without power and supplies. Hurricane-force winds extended 80 miles from its centre, and tropical storm force winds up to 195 miles. "I love hurricanes. But this one has been an experience for me", she said.
Coastal Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds will likely become bottlenecks, filling with runoff faster than they can drain into the ocean, he said.
But the mayor says she knows many people are ignoring evacuation orders.
In Jacksonville, North Carolina, next to Camp Lejeune, firefighters and police fought wind and rain as they went door-to-door to pull people out of the Triangle Motor Inn after the structure began to crumble and the roof started to collapse. "We might leave", she said.
A severe inland flood threat is emerging as remnants of Florence pound the Carolinas with almost nonstop rain for a second day since the once major hurricane howled ashore.
United States correspondent Cordelia Lynch, who is in New Bern, said: "This community in the weeks and months to come is up against a great deal of flooding".
CBS CEO Moonves resigns after sexual misconduct claims
The New Yorker has a lengthy story up in which six more women come forward to accuse CBS executive Les Moonves of sexual assault. CBS said details of the litigation settlement and the Moonves agreement will be disclosed in an upcoming regulatory filing.
As of noon, Swansboro, North Carolina, had almost 31 inches of rain, Emerald Isle had over 23, and Wilmington and Goldsboro had about a foot. Parts of North and SC are forecast to receive an additional 10 to 15 inches in rain, with storm totals peaking around 30 to 40 inches. The gradually slowing but still life-threatening storm is moving northwest at 15 miles per hour (24 kph).
Major flooding was also expected to the east in Kinston on the Neuse River, expected to reach 27 feet by Monday, nearing a record 28.3 feet set during Hurricane Matthew.
In South Carolina, emergency managers were watching several northeastern rivers that flooded two years ago during Hurricane Matthew, destroying homes and government offices.
The National Hurricane Center said Florence is moving west at 2 mph (3.2 kph), with its center located about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Monster storm Hurricane Florence is barreling closer to the coast of the Carolinas. But authorities warn Florence has an enormous wind field as it zeroes in on the Southeast U.S. coast, raising the risk of the ocean surging on to land and making Florence extremely risky. "Florence will then move generally northward across the western Carolinas and the central Appalachian Mountains early next week".
The Wilmington airport had a wind gust clocked at 105 miles per hour (169 kph), the highest since Hurricane Helene in 1958.
The storm originally made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday as a category one hurricane.
US Open 2018: Rafael Nadal outlasts Dominic Thiem in 5-set epic
I don't want to lose against anybody. "I am sorry for him, but I am sure he will have his chances in the future, without a doubt". Open tennis tournament early Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in NY . "I guess to keep your cool and be a good sport is very important".
Time is running short to get out of the way of Hurricane Florence, a monster of a storm that has a region of more than 10 million people in its potentially devastating sights.