Florence was moving west-southwest at about 5 miles per hour (7 km/h), with its center located over eastern SC.
"This system is unloading epic amounts of rainfall, in some places measured in feet and not inches", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news briefing about a storm that forecasters said was 300 miles (480 km) wide. The evacuation zone included part of the city of Fayetteville, population 200,000.
North Carolina officials said there had been at least seven storm-related fatalities in the state, with unconfirmed reports of a further three deaths.
Destruction was widely scattered across the region, and the Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews and volunteers used helicopters, boats and heavy-duty vehicles to conduct rescues Saturday.
The storm has killed five so far, and officials expect the death toll to rise.
Even though Florence is weakening, it will still bring significant rainfall inland to the Appalachians before moving toward the Northeast on Tuesday. Cooper cited a National Weather Service forecast that said almost the entire state could be covered in several feet of water. He said "if those shelters fill up, we will establish more shelters".
Get the latest weather forecast for central OH at Dispatch.com/weather.
All roadways in the state are at varying degrees of risk for flash flooding through Sunday, with major river flooding anticipated into early next week.
The slow-moving storm is still dumping colossal amounts of rain on North Carolina and parts of northern SC.
The Marines, the Coast Guard, civilian crews, and volunteers used helicopters, boats, and heavy-duty vehicles on September 15, to rescue scores of people trapped by Florence's shoreline onslaught, even as North Carolina braced for what could be the next stage of the disaster: widespread, catastrophic flooding inland.
On Saturday some residents tried to return home, driving through flooded highways and armed with chainsaws to clear fallen pine trees that covered the road. The end of the evacuation goes into effect at noon.
"It's been done very efficiently and very well", he added, referencing the recovery efforts.
In New Bern, hundreds of people were rescued from their flood-swamped homes.
"What we want to try to do is to minimize the time that people spend in their shelters that they're in right now", Sprayberry said.
One New Bern resident explained her reasoning.
Across the Trent River from New Bern, Jerry and Jan Andrews returned home after evacuating to find carp flopping in their backyard near the porch stairs.
A mother and baby died when a tree crashed into their home, the Wilmington Police Department saidon TwitterFriday afternoon.
Officials in SC said a 61-year-old woman died when her auto struck a tree that had fallen across a highway near the town of Union.
"In addition to the flash flood and flooding threat, landslides are also possible in the higher terrain of the southern and central Appalachians across western North Carolina into southwest Virginia", it said.