NORTH CAROLINA (WBTV) - The state of emergency remains in effect for North Carolina, Gov. Cooper and state officials said during a noon press conference Friday regarding the state's preparations ahead of Hurricane Irma.
"We still need to be prepared," Cooper said, adding that emergency crews will continue to be ready for whatever the storm may deliver. "The State of emergency is still in effect and will remain so until the storm has passed," Cooper said, acknowledging that the storm can affect any part of the state.
The State Emergency Center will remain activated. Emergency crews say they are prepared to engage in "mass sheltering and feeding operations."
The governor wants residents to also be prepared with emergency kits and planned emergency routes. Readync.org will have emergency management information, storm preparation information and information on state roads as updates come in.
Interstate 95 and Highway 301 are potential routes that would be used for evacuation if needed.
State transportation officials say vehicles left unattended along interstates I-26, I-77, I-85 and I-95 in North Carolina will be towed to help keep traffic moving.
"Things are looking better for North Carolina with Hurricane Irma, but our state is not yet in the clear and we can't let our guard down," Cooper said, adding that there is a potential for rock slides and landslides in the state. "It could remain a tough time out there," Cooper said.
Members of the National Guard have been in Key West evacuating nursing homes patients.
"Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who are already picking up the pieces from Irma, and from Harvey for that matter," Cooper said.
Heavy rain, inland wind damage, downed trees and heavy power outages are possible affects North Carolinians will see as a result of Hurricane Irma, state officials said Thursday.
Localized flooding is also a concern for flood-prone areas.
Cooper issued a state of emergency effective 8 a.m. Thursday ahead of Irma's potential impact on the state. "This storm can impact any part of North Carolina," Cooper said during a Thursday press conference, reminding residents that all 100 counties are under the state of emergency.
Emergency crews are activated in preparation, and staff from FEMA will be joining over the weekend. "We want to get ready for recovery as well as for rescue," Cooper said.
Starting at 7 p.m. Friday, all lane closures will be suspended so residents and crews can travel without blockages. The National Guard is being activated and search and rescue crews will be brought in.
Price gouging was another concern raised at the press conference.
Cooper explained price gouging as "any price that is unreasonably excessive under the circumstances." Price gouging is to be reported to the Attorney General's office.
As of Thursday morning, the official track takes Irma into the southern tip of Florida near Miami. Beyond that, the official track brings Irma up the eastern coast of Florida and then into the South Carolina coast between Hilton Head and Charleston sometime Monday, meteorologist Chis Larson says.
State officials believe Irma will be tropical storm status by the time it reaches North Carolina.
As for any shelters, emergency management says this will be on a county basis and will be decided individually.