As meteorologists expected, the storm formerly known as Hurricane Florence (it was downgraded to a tropical depression on Sunday after previously being cut to a tropical storm) is stubbornly lingering over the Carolinas and dumping an unceasing assault of warm ocean water on the state.
Radar showed that parts of the storm were impacting six states, but North and South Carolina remained in the bulls eye. The worst hit parts of North and South Carolina have already been inundated with more than two feet of rain, and forecasters are saying there could be an additional 1.5 feet before the end of day Sunday, according to the Associated Press. For this reason, disaster analysts have said the storm is expected to be the costliest in US history, with damages exceeding $170 billion.
While wind speeds have slackened to 35 mph from an initial windspeed of more than 90 mph when Florence first came ashore, the storm has continued its crawl west at 8 mph. At 5 am, the storm was centered about 20 miles southwest of Columbia, South Carolina.
Meteorologists forecast "catastrophic" flooding in both North and South Carolina, as some areas will be coated with more than 40 inches of rain, according to USA Today. Meanwhile, the death toll has risen to 15 people, and is expected to rise.
"These rainfall amounts will produce catastrophic flash flooding, prolonged significant river flooding and an elevated risk for landslides in western North Carolina and far southwest Virginia," the hurricane center warned.
Sections of two interstates, I-40 and I-95, were shut down due to flooding and debris. Several rivers were approaching record levels, and officials warned that cresting in some areas won't come until later in the week.
Swansboro, NC, a historic town known for its tourism situated by the coast recorded the highest rainfall total with 34 inches as of Sunday morning.
"This is historic in terms of the amount of rain from one storm in North Carolina," said meteorologist Bob Oravec.
Videos of the flooding circulated on twitter:
And experts said the damage is far from over.
North Carolina was getting the worst of it as the heaviest rains fell around the northern edge of the storm. But coastal South Carolina was also getting pummeled. Myrtle Beach was hit with more than 7 inches of rain.
And almost 60,000 utility customers were without power across the northern part of SC.
In New Bern, hundreds of people were rescued from their flood-swamped homes. Evidence of Hurricane Florence’s wrath was sprawled across the lawn of the Patty and Philip Urick’s home on the Neuse River, all but destroyed by violent flooding.
Scores of neighbors faced similar damage after the water crested near the tops of their doorways. As water and debris accumulated, front doors caved in and garage doors ripped apart, sending water into homes and washing out what was inside.
The couple, who moved into their three-story row home 14 years ago, rode out the storm.
"We figured we were safe here on the second floor," said Philip Urick, 82. "We also surmised the storm was not going to be near as severe as it was."
In one heartwarming story, the so-called "Cajun Navy" - a group of civilians using their boats to rescue trapper residents who first achieved some measure of fame after Hurricane Harvey - staged a rescue at a flooded animal shelter.
In Newport, rescuers were able to reach a flooded animal shelter after the Carteret County Humane Society put out a call for help on Facebook. The Cajun Navy, a group of volunteers in boats, brought two stranded shelter workers, 43 dogs, 80 cats and roughly 15 chickens to safety.
President Trump praised FEMA first responders in a Tweet on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Fayetteville, NC Mayor Mitch Colvin told people living within a mile of the Cape Fear and nearby Little River that they had until 3 pm Sunday to get out.
FEMA Chief Brock Long said Sunday during an appearance on "Meet the Press" that the recovery from Florence will be "ugly," but that the state "will get through this."
Parts of the North Carolina mountains have declared a state of emergency, while the Blue Ridge Parkway shut down as the region braces for mudslides, according to CBS 17.
Even higher rain amounts are possible in isolated areas. A flash flood watch is in effect for most of the area through Monday evening.
"We do expect some flash flooding, we're going to expect probably some slope failures, some landslides, and there will be some trees down and there will be some power outages," said Jimmy Brissie, emergency management director of Henderson County.
The storm's heavy rain is expected to continue soaking the Carolinas, western Virginia and eastern West Virginia into Monday.