Lisa Shackleford hugs her pet dogs Izzy and Bella as she wades through flood waters to safety while the Northeast Cape Fear River breaks its banks in the aftermath Hurricane Florence in Burgaw, North Carolina, Sept. 17, 2018.
Trump promised, "Whatever we have to do at the federal level, we will be there".
After submerging North Carolina with almost 3 feet (1 meter) of rain, the storm dumped more than 6.5 inches (16.5 centimeters) of rain in the Northeast, where it caused flash flooding.
In Fayetteville, a city in central North Carolina where the Cape Fear River crested early Wednesday morning, hundreds of residents remain in shelters and county officials have confirmed at least two deaths.
"People don't realize how a very hard phase is beginning today, with the lovely sunshine", Trump said.
Hurricane Florence has battered the east coast with heavy winds and torrential rains, but now poses a new danger as the former storm continues to sweep across the north east.
"The planning that went into this is beyond belief", Trump said shortly after arriving at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina".
Trump at times has struggled to project empathy during national crisis.
Officials across the state are cautioning residents that more floods are expected this week.
Despite everything they had been through, the volunteers and locals were energized, and cheered when he finished handing out food, then crowded around the president to get photos.
"If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that'll be very interesting", the president said, adding that he "really would want to see what she has to say".
In a video posted on social media the day before his trip to the region, Trump praised first responders, offered prayers for victims and declared the storm "one of the wettest we've ever seen from the standpoint of water". He warned that the Democrats will soon start criticizing the government response, and "this will be a total lie, but that's what they do, and everybody knows it!"
He was accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long, Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of SC.
Trump is visiting Temple Baptist Church in New Bern.
Appealing to Trump, Cooper said, "Mr. President, we have a long road ahead".
Through tears, she said she has survived hurricanes Floyd in 1999 and Matthew in 2016 but "this has been the absolute worst one".