Homes and roads have been utterly submerged by the barrage of rain caused by the remnants of hurricane Florence – now a tropical storm.
The huge levels of rainfall are a result of the storm surge created by the dangerous tropical weather, which has claimed the lives of 11 people.
Parts of southern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina could see another foot or more of rain over the weekend, according to National Weather Service.
Warning of the storm’s continued threat to life, Governor Roy Cooper said: “More people now face imminent threat than when the storm was offshore.
“I cannot overstate it: flood waters are rising. If you aren’t watching for them, you are risking your life.”
The Governor urged residents and travellers to avoid driving throughout the state because most roads are still at risk of major flooding as rain continues to hammer down.
He advised never to drive through still or moving water covering roadways – and not to return to hard-hit areas until given an official “all-clear”.
Mr Cooper said: “North Carolina Emergency Management experts have been sharing flood mapping with local officials.
“If you are told to evacuate, please do so immediately. It could save your life.”
Flood levels could hit record highs at several locations during the coming week in a sign the downgrading of the storm does not mean it is now innocuous.
The Cape Fear River near Fayetteville is projected to rise almost 45 feet (14 metres) to 62 feet (19 metres) by Tuesday.
Properties within one mile of the river were hastily evacuated on Saturday.
Governor Cooper has cautioned people in affected areas against leaving safe shelters to return home to inspect damage to their homes.
He also reminded people the bulk of storm-related deaths occur from drowning in floodwaters.
Supplies, equipment, ambulances and other resources are being deployed to western counties based on flood modelling.
Some of the affected areas have never experienced this level of flooding before so are ill-prepared.
The public is urged to be vigilant, pay close attention to forecasts and heed warnings from local officials.