Cars were all under water on Wednesday night at a complex on Willow Court and were marked with an "X."
When the Elizabeth River crested it sent water about eight to 10 feet high, trapping some people in their ground-floor apartments with nowhere to go.
"I heard her screaming and she was like, 'Help me! Help me!' I said, 'Are you okay?'" one person told CBS2's Alice Gainer on Thursday.
Several people said they saw their neighbor, a woman in her 30s, go outside with her dog.
"She was on top of the truck," one said.
Photos show the water so high, you can't see the tops of cars.
But neighbors said the woman went back into her apartment, became trapped and died.
"It hurt me because I know that girl was in there," one neighbor said.
Three other people in the complex also died -- a man in his 30s and two people in their 70s, officials said.
A water line seen almost at the ceiling showed how dire the situation was.
In one ground-floor home, 67-year-old Nancy Johnson and her 84-year-old sister said they kept trying to position themselves above the water.
"We we standing up in the sink, the water was up to here," Johnson said, showing Gainer how dangerous the situation was. "We were singing, singing, 'Come right here Jesus. Come right here.'"
Sonya Rivera lives upstairs.
"I kept stomping on the floor to make sure they were still alive," Rivera said.
First responders arrived in a boat to Rivera's and within minutes the fire department used a saw to drill through the floor so they could rescue the women below, Gainer reported.
"I said, 'Whatever you all gotta do ya gotta hurry because the water is up to here," Johnson said.
"If it had been five minutes, even three minutes, I think we'd have been gone," 84-year-old Louise Behlins said.
"She came out of the water praising God and I was right there with her," Rivera added.
The Elizabeth River is directly behind the homes.
"I don't think anybody expected it to crest at eight-foot higher because it hasn't done that in 50 years," Mayor Chris Bollwage said.
Even the nearby fire station suffered damage.
"Several pieces of apparatus, a lot of tools and equipment," Chief Donald Peterson said.
First responders were using drones Thursday to double-check residences and waterways. The mayor said hundreds of residents were rescued Wednesday night.
About 600 will need to stay somewhere else.
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