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.
New Bern Police Lt. David Daniels said early Friday morning that between 150 and 200 people had been rescued so far, with others still to go.
Two rescue teams from the federal disaster relief agency FEMA were on the job and others were on the way.
“Currently ~150 awaiting rescue in New Bern,” City Hall said on Twitter.
“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. DM