Michael also ranked as the third-strongest storm on record to make landfall in the continental United States, after Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 and the so-called Labor Day hurricane of 1935 in the Florida Keys.
Florence, a onetime hurricane that weakened to a tropical depression dumped up to 100 cm of rain on parts of North Carolina and continued to produce widespread heavy rain, the National Weather Service said.
In towns like Lumberton, which lies just 25 feet (7.6 m) above sea level, even the best preparations cannot protect the entire area, said French, the emergency services manager. "There are some areas that you simply can’t do anything about."
The storm continued to crawl westward, dumping more than 75 centimetres of rain since Friday, and fears of historic flooding grew. Tens of thousands were evacuated from communities along the state's steadily rising rivers
Carolina Beach in North California is a small oceanfront town that could be right in the hurricane’s path. Many residents left under a mandatory evacuation order. The New York Times met the few who stayed behind.