Mr Cooper said the hurricane was "wreaking havoc" on the coast and could wipe out entire communities as it makes its "violent grind across our state for days".
At least five people have been killed so far in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence which was downgraded Friday afternoon to a tropical storm with winds of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) along the U.S. East Coast.
The center of the hurricane's eye came ashore at about 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT) near Wrightsville Beach close to Wilmington, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
On the forecast track, the center of Florence will move further inland across extreme southeastern North Carolina and extreme eastern SC today and Saturday. Parts of North Carolina had seen storm surges - the bulge of seawater pushed ashore by the hurricane - as high as 10 feet, he said.
The National Weather Service said on Twitter on Friday night that Morehead City had received 23.04 inches of rain with more heavy rain coming.
Florence's forward movement during the day slowed to a near-standstill - sometimes it was going no faster than a human can walk - and that enabled it to pile on the rain.
On the mainland in New Bern, the authorities said more than 100 people had to be saved from floods, and that the downtown area was under water. More than 60 people had to be rescued in another town as a cinderblock motel collapsed at the height of the storm's fury.
"We're just trying to plan for the future here, not having a house for an extended period of time", David Garrigus said. "You may need to move up to the second storey, or to your attic, but we are coming to get you".
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Video reports from several towns in the Carolinas showed emergency personnel wading through rippling thigh-high floodwaters in residential neighborhoods.
A mother and an infant were killed when a tree fell onto their home in Wilmington.
Forecasters say it is especially risky after dark because people trying to escape may not realize how deep flood water is on roads.
"It's insane", he said in a phone interview. The storm is expected to slow down, stall and then perhaps wander just off the Carolina shore as it nears the coast Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Utility companies said millions were expected to lose power and restoration could take weeks.
That's about 220 miles from Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, where Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 a.m. September 14, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline. Although it weakened slightly Wednesday afternoon, forecasters do not expect Florence's strength to change much before it comes ashore near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. Significant weakening is expected over the weekend.
At least 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been warned to evacuate, and others are hunkering down.
"I ask all Georgians to join me in praying for the safety of our people and all those in the path of Hurricane Florence", Deal said. "I'm a little bit scared right now, but I have my iPad and I'm watching Netflix".
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's student paper, The Daily Tar Heel, reported that class has been canceled and students have been encouraged to leave the Chapel Hill area before the storm hits. But forecasters said its extreme size meant it could batter the US East Coast with hurricane-force winds for almost a full day.
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