The drama was unfolding in the riverfront town of New Bern, which was hit by a huge storm surge as the sprawling Category 1 hurricane came close to making landfall.
Video footage showed parking lots in New Bern turned into shallow lakes of dirty gray water as heavy rain fell.
Two rescue teams from the federal disaster relief agency FEMA were on the job and others were on the way.
"WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU. You may need to move up to the second story, or to your attic, but WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU," it added.
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