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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — Gov. Roy Cooper is reminding North Carolinians that Hurricane Florence is a storm that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“Every county and every person in North Carolina needs to stay alert and take this storm seriously,” Cooper said.
Despite newer forecasts showing the storm turning south, it has the potential to be devastating for the coast and inland areas.
“Plan to be without power for days,” Cooper said. “The rain may last for days, and not hours. This may be a marathon, not a sprint.”
A total of 16 shelters are currently open across the state and are capable of housing 4,000 evacuees.
Mandatory evacuations are in place for much of the coast.
“If you are in a mandatory evacuation zone, it is important that you heed these warnings and move to safety,” the governor said.
The governor said power plants are taking all necessary steps to help people get power back after the storm.
Florence’s projected path includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in huge lagoons.
Cooper asked residents to plan now and make sure they have their medication and shelter for their pets. He also asked that residents clear the exterior of their homes.
North Carolina Emergency Management will be running a 24-hour schedule and will add more swift water rescue teams and several more assets ahead of Florence’s arrival at the coast.
Col. Glenn McNeill with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said troopers are on standby statewide to assist where needed.
Troopers are removing abandoned vehicles along evacuation routes and there are 14 squads statewide that are ready to deploy after the landfall, he said. There are four squads assigned to Wake County.
North Carolina Department of Transportation officials said maintenance crews are prepping their vehicles and will be holding swift water rescue training Wednesday.
In a videotaped message from the White House, President Donald Trump said the government is fully prepared for Florence but urged people to “get out of its way.”
“Don’t play games with it. It’s a big one,” he said.
Officials are asking residents to only call 911 for emergencies. You can dial 211 or (888) 892-1162 for information on the storm and drivers can check drivenc.gov for traffic information.